Germany updates

Arbitration & ADR

Contributed by Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
Need for speed – revised DIS Rules for Expedited Proceedings
  • Germany
  • 05 March 2020

Alongside its 2018 Arbitration Rules, the German Arbitration Institute issued a revised set of fast-track arbitration rules. The appeal of these rules is that parties can expect a binding award within six months of the first case management conference. As parties are free to agree on the application of these rules to all kinds of dispute, irrespective of the amount at issue, they provide parties with a high level of autonomy. However, parties should exercise their discretion wisely as the rules are not suitable for all disputes.

Third-party arbitration funding – an overview
  • Germany
  • 24 October 2019

Third-party arbitration funding continues to be a hot topic in Germany, with a growing number of companies considering using third-party funding and more international funders than ever joining established German funders. This article outlines some of the pros and cons of third-party funding in an arbitration context.

2018 DIS Arbitration Rules – one year on
  • Germany
  • 18 July 2019

In March 2018 the German Arbitration Institute's (DIS's) new arbitration rules came into force. The new rules are a good choice in almost every setting, offering competitive fees for arbitrators and institutions and providing a modern and efficient arbitration framework that preserves and expands on the distinctive features of the previous DIS rules. These unique factors are particularly appealing to in-house counsel.


Aviation

Contributed by Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein
E-ticket voucher not a valid ticket
  • Germany
  • 20 May 2020

A recent Eilenburg Local Court decision highlighted that a booking or reservation confirmation issued to a passenger by a tour operator with whom a flight has been booked should not necessarily be regarded as a confirmed booking under Article 3(2)(a) of the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation, even if the booking is referred to as an 'e-ticket voucher'. This decision underlines that the burden of proof for the existence of a confirmed booking will be borne by the passenger.

Damages claim dismissed under Montreal Convention
  • Germany
  • 13 May 2020

The Hamburg State Court recently rejected a damages claim arising from the cross-border transport of goods from the United States to Germany. The consignment was transported to Germany by air freight and was lost in a transhipment warehouse on the premises of Frankfurt Airport. The plaintiff claimed damages on the basis of German transport law and refused to settle the claim on the basis of the Montreal Convention.

No right to compensation for company tariff booking
  • Germany
  • 06 May 2020

The Bremen Local Court recently dismissed a compensation claim under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation for a delayed flight booked using a company tariff. The court has thus put a double stop to possible claims by employees. If a booking is made using a company tariff, claims are generally excluded. Even if a booking is made using a general tariff, the travelling employee cannot bring forward a legal action.

Measures to assist airlines during COVID-19 crisis
  • Germany
  • 08 April 2020

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, all German airlines have had to significantly reduce their number of flights. In order to assist airlines, the government implemented a new law to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in civil, insolvency and criminal procedures (the COVID-19 Act). The new law is also relevant for aircraft lessors that have leased aircraft to German airlines and fear that in case of an airline's insolvency, they may have difficulties repossessing their assets.

Do German homepages and foreign providers have legal venue in Germany?
  • Germany
  • 01 April 2020

The Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court recently dismissed a claim for damages due to a ticket cancellation. The court rightly denied the international jurisdiction of German courts and confirmed that a legal person can be sued at the seat of its branch office. However, the prerequisite for this is that a dispute has a connection to the relevant branch office, which was lacking in this specific case.


Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
FCO guidance on cooperation between competitors during COVID-19 crisis
  • Germany
  • 30 April 2020

The antitrust authorities have signalled their approval for cooperation between competitors during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. President of the Federal Cartel Office Andreas Mundt and EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager emphasise that the authorities are open to direct communication. According to Mundt, even after the crisis, cooperation might be necessary to overcome economic difficulties.

Cartel damage claims: Federal Court of Justice corrects understanding of 'affected' goods
  • Germany
  • 09 April 2020

A recent Federal Court of Justice decision clarifies open questions relating to cartel damages and simplifies the presentation of claims by plaintiffs, as it will no longer be necessary to present and prove that a cartel agreement had an actual impact on an acquisition transaction under the requirements of Section 286 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It is to be expected that the number of cartel damage actions pending before the German courts will continue to increase.

FCO guidance on B2B platforms: launch of digital agricultural platform approved
  • Germany
  • 27 February 2020

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has raised no objections to the launch of 'Unamera', a digital trading platform for agricultural products. During the review, the FCO provided guidance on the competition law implications of digital platforms, specifically with regard to the obligations where shareholders are active in the same market as the platform's users, the market statistics published on these platforms and the risk of price fixing.

Cartel damage claims for indirect damage: questioning German law on cartel damages after ECJ decision
  • Germany
  • 16 January 2020

Under German law, a plaintiff does not only have to prove the unlawful behaviour of a liable party (ie, in the case of cartel damages, a competition law infringement such as a cartel) and any damage caused by this behaviour; the Act Against Restraints of Competition also requires a plaintiff to be "affected" by unlawful behaviour. However, the broad wording of the act could still be too restrictive in light of a recent European Court of Justice decision and will therefore have to be amended or reinterpreted.

Steel manufacturers fined record €646 million for agreeing surcharges and exchanging information
  • Germany
  • 19 December 2019

The Federal Cartel Office has fined three companies and three persons a total of approximately €646 million. The companies agreed and exchanged certain supplements and surcharges for so-called 'quarto plates' in Germany for approximately 14 years. Companies and associations should review their practices with regard to price components (particularly surcharges) as this is not the first decision on this matter.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by Mayer Brown
COVID-19: works council consultation, quarantine and social distancing
  • Germany
  • 27 May 2020

The COVID-19 crisis poses many challenges for employers and employees alike. It also raises new questions about the cooperation process between employers and works councils and the latter's co-determination. Employers are wondering how best to consult works councils when regular operations are suspended. After all, business needs to continue, which can also mean that personnel measures and other changes need to be carried out – all of which are subject to works council consultation.

COVID-19: short-time work implemented – what now?
  • Germany
  • 20 May 2020

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half a million businesses in Germany have implemented short-time work. The temporary reduction of regular working time allows companies to reduce their personnel costs while maintaining their workforce and avoiding lay-offs. This article provides an overview of the practicable issues that employers must handle during short-time work periods.

Continuation of remuneration in event of illness: uniformity of incapacity
  • Germany
  • 26 February 2020

In a recent case, the Federal Labour Court once again had to consider an employee's claim for continued remuneration in case of illness. The decision confirmed that an employee's statutory entitlement to continuation of remuneration is limited to six weeks even if they are suffering from an ongoing illness and, during that time, begin suffering from a different illness which also results in their incapacity to work (the so-called 'uniformity of incapacity' principle).

Lump sum compensation for overtime work
  • Germany
  • 18 December 2019

The labour courts regularly consider the enforceability of clauses in employment contracts that declare overtime hours to be deemed compensated by payment of regular remuneration. The fact that lump sum compensation clauses still appear in mostly inadmissible forms potentially results from employers' aim to save the cost of the remuneration and considerable organisational effort. However, lump sum compensation clauses are suitable only to a limited extent and involve a high risk of unenforceability.

Leave pay for commission-based employees: an often overlooked pitfall for employers
  • Germany
  • 23 October 2019

An accurate method for calculating leave pay must take into consideration an employee's holiday, sickness, bank holiday and other paid absences; however, this can be burdensome for a company's HR department if its employees earn fluctuating rates of commission. While a certain amount of bureaucratic effort is inevitable, a well-thought-out system and properly trained HR officials will help to minimise complications and avoid negative consequences.


Franchising

Contributed by Noerr LLP
Inadmissible imitation of 'presentation of dishes': stronger protection for gastronomic concepts
  • Germany
  • 13 August 2019

Franchisors must typically consider the extent of concept protection if franchisees which have left the franchise system reuse the concept in a largely unchanged fashion or if third-party competitors (outside the franchise system) copy the concept's main features. A recent decision concerning a fast-food restaurant franchise reinforces the IP protection of gastronomic concepts against competitors' inadmissible imitations.

Bogus self-employment and unethical franchise agreements
  • Germany
  • 30 April 2019

Case law from the highest German courts on franchise law matters is rare, which makes a recent Federal Court of Justice decision on the subject of bogus self-employment of franchisees – a perennial issue for franchise law practitioners – even more noteworthy. The case concerned claims for payment under a licence agreement and the question of whether the licence agreement was void due to the franchisee's bogus self-employment.

For want of an asterisk: regional court scrutinises franchisor's TV advertising
  • Germany
  • 15 January 2019

The Munich Regional Court I recently established a new precedent for competition restriction, which is prohibited in franchising systems under the Act against Restraints on Competition. The court found references to "participating restaurants" in a franchisor's TV advertising insufficient and in violation of the price maintenance prohibition. This decision deserves special attention as it relates to advertising with non-binding price recommendations, which is common among franchisors.

Admissibility of lawsuit despite effective mediation clause in franchise agreement
  • Germany
  • 02 October 2018

A recent Hamburg Regional Court decision is generally understood to have solidified the first franchise-related court judgment on bad faith regarding mediation clauses rendered by the Saarbruecken Higher Regional Court in 2015. However, at second glance, the Hamburg judgment provides a different reasoning for bad faith regarding a mediation objection and might therefore serve as a new application of bad faith in future franchise-related court proceedings regarding mediation clauses.

Requirements for interim injunction to enforce obligation to operate business
  • Germany
  • 06 February 2018

The Bochum Regional Court recently looked at whether a franchisee's contractual obligation to operate a business can be enforced by way of an interim injunction. To grant an interim injunction to enforce the obligation to keep the business open, it must be demonstrated that the franchisor faces serious losses at least equivalent to a threat to its survival or to drawbacks that cannot later be remedied.