Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection - Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz
The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, BMJV) is primarily a ministry of legislation, also advising the other Federal Ministries in the preparation of legislative proposals. It drafts legislation in the fields of law assigned to its remit, these mainly being the fields of civil law, commercial and economic law, criminal law, courts constitution law and procedural law for the individual jurisdictions, and service or professional law for judges, public prosecutors, lawyers, notaries, patent law-yers and Rechtspfleger (senior judicial officers).
Since the beginning of the 18th legislative term, the Ministry has also been responsible within the Federal Government for the area of consumer activity. In order to reduce the structural imbalance between business on the one side and consumers on the other, the Ministry focuses on ensuring the transparency, comprehensibility and comparability of products and services. This is done by introducing regulations which create a safe environment, prohibit fraud and deception, and strengthen the market position of consumers. Apart from introducing legislation and enforcing rights, further key instruments include the support of dialogue between the various stakeholders and the promotion of consumer information and awareness.
Beyond this, one of the most important tasks of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection is to perform legal scrutiny of legislation drafted by other Ministries in terms of compatibility with constitutional law and the legal system as a whole. Compliance with formal drafting requirements is also monitored to ensure uniformity and the use of legal language that is as clear as possible.
Responsibility for the administration of justice – e.g. for the courts and public prosecution offices – lies mainly with the individual Federal Länder. This follows form the general principle of the division of competence laid out in Article 30 of the German constitution or Basic Law (Grundgesetz, GG), which provides that the exercise of state authority and the discharge of state functions are the responsibility of the Federal Länder to the extent that the Basic Law does not mandate or allow a different rule. Article 92 of the Basis Law places this in concrete terms for the judiciary.
The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection reflecting its responsibility for the law governing the legal professions and legal training provides assistance for the further training of judges and public prosecutors, most notably within the scope of its responsibility for the German Judicial Academy (Deutsche Richterakademie). It represents and coordinates, as the formal member, the participation of the Federation and the Federal Länder within the European Judicial Training Network.
Apart from the Federal Constitutional Court – which is an independent constitutional body of the Federation – five supreme Federal courts have been established at the Federal level (Arti-cle 95 of the Basic Law), three of which are within the remit of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. Primarily, these constitute the respective supreme appellate instances for the courts of ordinary jurisdiction and the administrative, finance, labour and social jurisdictions (Federal Court of Justice, Federal Administrative Court, Federal Finance Court, Federal Labour Court and Federal Social Court). In addition, there is the Federal Patent Court – a Federal court which adjudicates at first instance (Article 96 para. 1 of Basic Law) and which also falls within the remit of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.
| Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection -
Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz
Mohrenstr. 37 10117
Phone: +49 30 18580 0
Fax: +49 30 18 580 9525
The Deutsche Richterakademie (German Judicial Academy) – which co-represents the German judicial training interests in Europe in close coordination with the formal EJTN Member, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, and with the 16 States – has been offering supra-regional, i.e. nationwide continuous in-service training for judges of all five branches of jurisdictions (ordinary civil and criminal courts; administrative courts; labour law courts; social security courts; fiscal courts), as well as for prosecutors since 1973. It was founded with a seat in Trier (Rhineland-Palatinate) for the Western German judiciary by the so-called “Administrative Agreement of 12 January 1973 between the Federation and the States (Länder) on the German Judicial Academy”.
After the German reunification, the Deutsche Richterakademie could double its size and training offer by the new Administrative Agreement of 1 March 1993 which included for the first time the five new States of Eastern Germany (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, and Saxony), and which established, in addition to the Trier Conference Site, a second full-accommodation Conference Site in magnificent Zieten Castle in the small village of Wustrau (State of Brandenburg near Berlin).
The Administrative Agreement fixes the Statutes of the Deutsche Richterakademie: Its main organs are the Board – the so-called “Programming Conference” – which decides on the annual training curriculum and on all questions of major importance, and the Director who is the executive head in charge of the day-to-day administration, who represents the Academy abroad and who annually reports to the Board. Each of the 17 stakeholders has one vote in the Board. Advisory roles are assumed by representatives of three professional associations, by the Director, and by the two Administration Managers, one for Trier and one for Wustrau.
A total of 55 staff members in Trier and Wustrau (administration; cooking and kitchen service; room cleaning; technical department; gate keepers; gardeners) take care of the needs of the about 5,000 annual judges and prosecutors from all over Germany which participate in more than 140 regular seminars and conferences. About 25 to 30 additional so-called “external” seminars – in cooperation with other domestic stakeholders, but also with the EJTN and with ERA – round out the picture. The 2014 overall budget of 4.5 million Euros (covering the Director’s and the staff’s salaries; lecturers’ fees and travel expenses; food, equipment and energy costs; maintenance and modernization works; etc.) was co-financed by the Federation which accounted for half of the expenses, and by the 16 States which shared the other half.
The Deutsche Richterakademie offers a very wide range of training activities and topics. Already in the aforementioned first Administrative Agreement of 12 January 1973, it was stipulated that judges and prosecutors should not only be provided “with continuous in-service training in their respective areas of expertise”, but also “with knowledge and experience of political, social, economic and other scholarly developments”. The Board has concretized this requirement with a formal Resolution from June 2002 according to which only 45 % of the training courses should be dedicated to legal specialist issues, whereas 30 % of the courses should be entirely multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, i.e. they should highlight the interfaces between the judiciary and other disciplines and phenomena (medicine, bookkeeping, philosophy, Internet, ethics, forensic science, etc.), and the resting 25 % should be “behavioural” and thus entirely interactive for a strictly limited number of participants on skills-building topics such as communication training, memory training, stress management, conflict management, mediation techniques or media training. Legal language courses in English, French, Spanish and Italian, as well as leadership and management trainings round out the picture.