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Ordinary Courts

(ordentliche Gerichte) comprise the two branches "ordinary civil courts" and "ordinary criminal courts". Civil courts are both nationally and internationally competent to try cases against defendants having their seat / residence in the district for which the court is competent. Parties to a contract may agree on the competence of another court; however, this may not be agreed to in General Terms of Contract with consumers.
Apart from some special issues, and cases of minor importance, for which the Courts of Petty Session (Amtsgericht) have exclusive competence, litigation starts at one of the High Courts (Landgericht) situated in most of the major German cities. The representation of the parties by attorneys is compulsory. As each attorney is now admitted to act before any of the High Courts, the choice of a sufficiently competent and experienced attorney is made somewhat easier.
An appeal against the decision of the High Court can be filed in the Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht) of which there are only one to three in each of the states. Again, the parties must be represented by an attorney especially admitted to the relevant Court of Appeal. Attorneys may be admitted to both a High Court and a Court of Appeal.
Attorneys in the Appeal Courts are entitled to 130% of the statutory fees of the attorney in the High Court, if an hourly fee is not agreed.
A further appeal may be filed to the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof), in Karlsruhe, against the decision of the Court of Appeal. This appeal is strictly limited to questions of law, and it is admissible only if allowed by the Court of Appeal or if accepted by the Federal Supreme Court. Attorneys have to be changed and chosen from the handful of Supreme Court Attorneys. They are entitled to 200% of the statutory fee of the High Court attorney, if not agreed otherwise.