2. Reduction of court operations
For the period of the general measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, hearings and oral hearings shall only be held under certain conditions (prevention of danger to life and limb, security and freedom, etc.). This also applies to the issuing and execution of enforcement orders and to the taking of oral minutes. Urgently required hearings of a party or oral hearings can also be held using suitable technical means of communication (in particular video conferencing).
If, as a result of the appearance and dissemination of COVID-19, the activities of a court cease (§ 161 ZPO, § 25 (1) 5 AußStrG), the Federal Minister of Justice must announce this fact on the website of the Federal Ministry of Justice. The Higher Regional Court shall then, at the request of one of the parties, designate another court to hear and decide the case if procedural steps are to be taken which are urgently required, inter alia, to avert a danger to life and limb, security and freedom. Only such judicial acts are to be completed as are urgently required in order to avert a danger to life and limb, security and freedom or to prevent substantial and irreparable damage to a party to the proceedings. However, notifications made by electronic legal transactions shall continue to be made.
In practice, it can be assumed that – except in urgent individual cases – no negotiations will take place in civil proceedings until at least the end of April 2019 and that there will therefore be corresponding procedural delays. Delays in written settlements are also to be expected due to the limited number of proceedings.