Welcome to the Homepage of the Federal Court of Justice
The Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) is Germany’s highest court of civil and criminal jurisdiction, i.e. “ordinary jurisdiction”. The Federal Court of Justice was instituted on 1 October 1950 and has its seat in Karlsruhe.
The task of the Federal Court of Justice is primarily to ensure uniform application of law, clarify fundamental points of law and develop the law. In general, it reviews rulings of the lower courts only with regard to errors of law. Even if the binding effect of the judgments and rulings of the Federal Court of Justice is technically confined to the respective case decided, in practice the lower courts follow its interpretation of the law virtually without exception. The far-reaching effect of rulings of the Federal Court of Justice is also due to the fact that, particularly in the field of civil law, legal practice is often guided by these rulings. Banks and insurance companies as well as landlords and divorce lawyers respond to a “ruling from Karlsruhe”.
Judgments of the Federal Court of Justice
Judgments made by the Federal Court of Justice since 1 January 2000 can be accessed via our judgments database. The judgments are available only in German. For searching the Federal Court’s judgments by English terminology please use the Common Portal of Case Law of the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Courts of the European Union.
Our bilingual brochure (German and English) provides an overview of the tasks and functions of the Federal Court of Justice, including information about its history and its buildings. It contains numerous photos and flowcharts of the stages of appeal in civil and criminal proceedings. The 72-page brochure can be downloaded here: The Federal Court of Justice (PDF, 5 MB, Not barrier-free file.)