Small claims courts in Germany

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Posted

Hi

 

Does anyone know if there is a Small Claims Court type system in operation here in Germany similar to the excellent system that is in existence in the UK?

 

If there isn't does it mean that only alternative is that I have to use an expensive lawyer to help me recover a few hundred Euro's?

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Posted

There is indeed - it's called a Mahnverfahren.

 

For a start, you'll need to buy the claims form called "Antrag auf Erlass eines Mahnbescheids" - most news agents have them (-or alternatively try Karstadt/Kaufhof's office supplies section). Make sure to keep the receipt as you'll be able to add the costs to your claim! The form itselft isn't necessarily self-explanatory, however, there is a pretty useful website that will guide you through the claims process.

 

All in all, it's a pretty cumbersome process. I did it once after I got tricked on eBay. - And I got my money back!

 

Good luck!

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Posted

Someone used some of my work (photography) after I revoked my permission to do so. Can I sue them for the relatively small amount without a lawyer? Is there such a thing as small claims court (like in the US) in Germany?

 

To be specific, they never had written permission by me. I took some pictures of some musicians, created a logo, etc. for a collaborative music project to be used for promo posters, because my husband was part of it. I "donated" my time though manager of the project did receive a bill in case there were some sponsors to cover my rate. Husband was kicked out after they tried to change the terms of the initial financial agreement two days before a tour together, because he wouldn't be bullied into taking a pay cut. I emailed them reminding them that I own all the usage rights to the images, logo, etc. and not to use them anymore. Now the posters are plastered all over town with hubby still in the picture (brazen in itself since he obviously won't be there). What is my recourse? Bill was for 500€ which is actually waaay under my usual rate.

 

Ideas?

 

Topics merged by admin

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Posted

Consider what you want: A once off fee for your work or the utilization rights attached to your artistic achievment. The Amtsgericht deals with any claims up to €5000, you can represent yourself or you can be represented by a lawyer or anybody else capable of presenting and arguing your case.

 

If you want to apply for a court order I can help you with some tips.

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Posted

There is no direct equivalent of the UK Small Claims Court. The "Mahnverfahren" equates only to the debt collection function of the County Court in the form of the CCJ (County Court Judgement) but is not applicable to other forms of legal process.

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Posted

Sarabyrd-

 

at this point I'm fine with them paying me the 500€. I will still continue to own any usage rights (as with any hired work except for total buy-outs that are rare and expensive), but that fee would compensate me for part of my time. I've been reading up on the Mahnverfahren and might go that route. I would love some tips in regards to the court order application. I have a feeling that it will come to that. I might just write them a couple of Mahnbriefe first though.Maybe they'll see the light (unlikely).

 

Stupid people, still very pissed.

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Posted

One warning letter with a specific due date, i.e. "pay €500 by 25 March 2009 (credit to my account)". That means that the debtor is in default on 26 March and that you can charge interest beginning 26 March. You do not need to send more than one letter.

 

If your agreement was with more than one person make sure that you name them all in the form and check the "Gesamtschuldner" box. Take a look at the form and PM me with any questions. I'll use your case as a basis for a Wiki "How to apply for a court order" entry.

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Posted

Hello, Guten Tag!

 

I wish to know whether there is a possibility of suing the authorities for their inefficiency in the following scenario, which I have experienced some days before:

 

***************************

I was new in Germany and I was going from Bonn to Emmerich. After boarding the train in a hurry with my luggage, I spotted some ticket-punching machines on the station and was worried that perhaps I had to punch my tickets before getting in the train.But as it was late, I went back to the door of the train and asked a lady in DB uniform whether I have to punch my ticket or not. As she didn't understand my question and as she didn't come forward to hear my question, I just stepped out of the train to get in right back if the door closes. But as I was talking to the lady, facing away from the door, I only realized the door has been closed by the sound of final clasp. I tried to open it but it didn't and the train left with my luggage(containing my passport, mobile, laptop and my apartment key in it). The lady (Frau D. Kroll) phoned the conductor of the train and asked to search him for my luggage. When I asked her whether they found it in the train, Frau Kroll told me to go to Koeln in the next train to collect my luggage from there.

Nobody in Koeln Station knew anything about my luggage, nobody in the information desk helped me to call the conductor of the train again and the police did not take my complain since my bag was "lost" not "stolen". I and my friends tried to call my mobile phone several times, which was finally switched off after about 4 hours of being lost.

 

After one week, I came to know that the same day just after about 4 hours of the bag being lost, it was submitted to the police station in Kamen. I went to Kamen only to find that my expensive tablet-laptop has been stolen from my bag along with some other things, though the switched-off phone(with the sim intact) and my passport was there in it.

 

***************************

 

We see, after I lost the bag one very simple step from the Deutsche Bahn would have surely saved my laptop. Also, one very simple step from the Kamen police would have surely caught the thief. These are the following:

 

1) If Frau Kroll have had told me that the conductor in the train had not found my luggage(or if she allowed me to talk to the conductor on phone), I could have given the conductor my mobile number with which tracking the bag would have been much easier (since my mobile was not in silent mode).

 

2) If as soon as the police in Kamen found my bag, they would have used my mobile to call either me or any of my friends from the contact list of the phone (and ask for my phone number. They already knew my identity form my passport.) It not only have saved me from a lot of anxiety, rather we could surely track down the thief as he or she had to change the original train at either of the 4/5 limited number of stations (e.g., Koeln, Dortmund etc.) for my bag to be brought to Kamen that early. So, it would have been enough to analyze the videos captured by the cameras placed in those stations for that short period of time. (this way, we could also know exactly when the laptop was stolen since the thief had to break the lock of my huge black-and-red coloured bag at some point to steal it.) Since this videos captured by station cameras are stored only for 3/4 days, tracking down the thief was no more possible in this way when I finally got my bag back.

 

It would be very kind of you to let me know whether I can sue either Deutsche Bahn or the Police because of their inefficiency, based on the two points that I mentioned above.

Thanking you in advance,

 

Sou

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Posted

You can sue anyone you want. But you won't win.

 

Suing the police is a great way to make friends in a foreign country, BTW. Please let us know how that works out for you.

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Posted

To you the loss of your laptop is a big thing. To cops it is your own carelessness. It wasn't stolen it was found but not handed in.

 

How were the police supposed to use your phone to call you? They wouldn't know the PIN. Plus of course the police using your phone and thereby your money will probably get them in trouble.

 

Do you realise how many people pass through Dortmund train station? Somewhere in the region of 300,000 per day. Hunting for one person with a suitcase (if they still had it at this stage and hadn't opened it in the train toilets or something)for a loss of a couple of hundred Euros is not a priority or even all that feasible.

 

You have no chance of getting anything done and should put it down to experience.

 

Did you not see the signs and hear the annoucments that say "DONT LEAVE YOUR LUGGAGE UNATTENDED" ?

 

Sorry but this 99% your own fault.

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Posted

 

How were the police supposed to use your phone to call you? They wouldn't know the PIN.

That and the police would be calling the very phone they're using.

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Posted

Contact the Deutsche Bahn headquarters before taking any legal steps. And now that the laptop has been stolen it is a police matter, let them do their job.

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Posted

Hi all, thank you for your advices and in particular I wish to thank Steven for noting down the obvious pediments that I have overlooked. Yes, the laptop was precious to me and it costed me nearly 2000 euros (almost all my savings from my diploma scholarship) to order a Lenovo X61 Tablet in US to send to one of my friends who sent it to me by DHL. But as you have figured out, I also realize that being that stupid was mainly my fault. So, as Steven has suggested, I am putting it down to experience.

 

By the way, in the course of my distress through one week (when I was a homeless person without an identity!) it was very nice to see how not only my friends but also very little known/completely unknown people lends a kind and helping hand when I needed it. (Well,.. I am talking here neither about the DB(not even Frau Kroll!) nor about the police! :P)

And the latest of this relieving experience were your responses in this forum. Indeed, this was a very nice experience.

Thank you dear friends.

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Posted

Last November I made a BahnCard and though the lady taking my details in Frankfurt was friendly and chatty, she never told me that its a subscription and if I don't want a BahnCard for the next year I have to cancel it 6 weeks before. And in fact, you won't notice this unless you dig deep through the terms and conditions all of which was written in German (so, I solely trusted the friendliness of the lady at the desk, who was taking my details). But I see, DB does not values the trust of its customer as much as I thought (For exampple, you may have a look here: http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=84944&st=45&gopid=1829484&#entry1829484 )

 

Since now I can travel freely in Nordrhein-Westfallen with my student card, I also don't need it. And I have emailed them telling this. But they did nothing but reminded(actually not. They told it for the first time to me in the reply of my email!) me of the fact that I should have canceled it 6 weeks ago.

 

As many of the victims of the 'legal cheating of DB' already did, I am also planning to send the card that I haven't ordered, straight back to them before it becomes valid.

 

Now, could anybody please tell me how to have a proof of the fact (i.e. a record) that I am sending back the BahnCard back to them? Its validity period starts from 20th November 2009 and if I am going to send it back, I have to do it before this time.

And also I wish to know, is this safe? I mean, can't they make a case against me in the small claims court or send a debt collector even if I send them the card back before its validity period starts?

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Posted

Send it by registered mail if you want proof of delivery. It won't do you any good though - you have an agreed and written contract with the Deutsche Bahn where you agreed that if you wanted to cancel you would do so 6 or more weeks before the anniversary of getting it, otherwise it would renew automatically for another year. Sending back does not cancel or negate this agreement. If you withhold payment in any way they can and will pursue you for breach of contract, if necessary via the courts. You don't have a leg to stand on. Naivety, ignorance, lack of language abilities or any verbal discussions you had with the nice DB lady are not valid defences.

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Posted

First, They use pretty , friendly, kind ladies to make people close contracts. Normally the kundingung frist is always in fine prints. You see that often, people on the street giving you free newspapers if you agree for them to send you free newspapers for a 2 weeks. If you don't write then in those to weeks to tell them to stop. You are in for a contract.The same with telephone contracts you see offered at malls.

In your case the minute you didn't, write to them or call them or send an email in the 6 weeks it was assumed you wanted to take the contract. The contract cannot be cancelled just by sending them back the plastic. You need to talk to them get someone tough to talk to them in German and tell them they should be ashamed of using smiling pretty girls to sell contracts to people who cannot even read and understand German, and they dont even bother to explain the details of the contract. Thats illegal. Normally they are supposed to read you the terms of the contracts in a language you understand, what you are signing. You could have been illiterate in this scene. Tell them you will get a lawyer. They fear lawyers. Call them several times and demand to talk to the manager.

Otherwise, They will keep sending you mahn, and the fines will keep increasing. Until they send a debt collector at your door.

You can send a letter with a request for the post man to get a sign or stamp that they received it. That you can do at the post office.

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Posted

Hi all, as a new resident in Germany and given my German wife hasn't lived here since childhood, I'm seeking advice.

 

In virtually all my experiences here in Germany so far, I feel a victim in virtually everything we've done - whether it be banking to insurance to even driving a car, but I'm happy to put much of that down to being in a new place with inexperience of customs & practices.

 

However, I'm slightly agrieved at the moment with a situation that has arisen.

 

Having just got married, we took my brand new suit (1 month old, 450€) to a dry-cleaners, where, unfortunately, they had an accident and damaged the jacket. The dry cleaners accept full responsibility and We have just received the insurance evaluation. It's a full 100€ less than the original value, citing depreciation. In my opinion this is derogatory. I put a 1 month old suit, worn once and it's been damaged beyond repair. I want to replace this like for like. The intention was to buy a lovely suit that I could not only use for the wedding but for afterwards, and now I have no suit and potentially a lot less money. This value seems a completely unfair and, in my view, a very false representation of depreciation.

 

Of course, we are to take this up with the insurance company and the dry cleaners, but in expectation of this being fruitless I would like to know what my rights are and if such things as a Small Claims Court exist?

 

[adminmerge][/adminmerge]

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Posted

[adminmerge][/adminmerge]

Hello

 

I moved out of a flat a couple of months ago and the landlord has kept about EUR 900.00 for repairs due to mould. Long story short, I did not accept responsibility for causing mould damage and I did not see any estimates for any work prior to it being carried out. We've exchanged letters and come to no agreement. So, does anyone know how to file a 'small' court claim against the landlord? I just need someone to make a sensible decision on who is right/wrong. I offered the agency mediate but landlord declined. So I simply want to stick in a court claim and take it from there. Any ideas?

 

Thanks

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Posted

sarabyrd

 

Thanks for the info. Do you know if I can file a claim in English or is that totally unreasonable? If I had to attend court, would I need a translator (I don't speak any German)?

 

Re the mould, neither me nor the landlord signed or agreed to anything when I left, no pictures, no estimates, zilch. But I certainly want to make a point of not letting the landlord get away with this easily.

 

On a separate note, if I listed (on internet forums etc) the address of the apartment I rented (rented through Mr Lodge) and a 'warning' to watch out for this landlord, would that be illegal or fall foul of any German privacy law?

 

Thanks

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