My first day in court

Paragraph Symbol - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / froxxThis week I had my first experience of visiting a German court.

I’ve talked before about the payment culture in Germany, and how some customers just don’t pay up.  I have had to register customer debts with the court before, but this was the first time I had actually been to one, as it was a slightly different situation.  This time, it was a supplier who owed me money.

Last year, I sent some items of computer hardware back to one of my supplies for repair or replacement.  Unfortunately the supplier then filed for bankruptcy.

It took a lot of telephone calls to get my hardware dealt with, but one of the items, which I had luckily noticed was not working before I sold it to a customer, was gone for a long time.

In the end I called the manufacturer and was told that the item had been destroyed and a credit note issued, meaning that rather than getting a replacement I now had to register as a creditor (called a Gläubiger in German) to my own supplier.

After filling out all the paper work, I heard nothing more until I received notice of a court appointment that was to be held this week.  This was a Prüfungstermin, where the creditors can argue to their case if the court-appointed bankruptcy lawyer has any doubts as to whether they are valid.

As it was, I was one of only two creditors who turned up.  After looking at both our cases, we were told that we could go and the rest of the cases would be handled without us, although we had a right to stay and hear them all.  It turned out that this was one of three such appointments – that’s a lot of creditors!

I decided not to stay, but am planning to attend the next stage – the Gläubigerversammlung – where all the creditors as assembled to vote on any further issues.  The next step is then the Prüfungsergebnis where the lawyer tells us how much money has was able to find in the company, eg. by selling off assets and assumably credit notes such as the one for my hardware.

And only after that do I stand a chance of getting my money!

It all sounds like rather a lot of effort for what is actually quite a small amount.  But I see it as time well spent, as the next supplier to go bankrupt may owe me considerably more, and next time I’ll know how the system works.


Content not available.
Please allow cookies by clicking Accept on the banner
About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. Interesting that you talk about your first day in court 🙂
    I´m from Germany but I like your Blog its funny how you discribe everything.

    Maybe you´ll check out my site too 🙂

Speak Your Mind


Please click on ACCEPT to give us permission to set cookies [more information]

This website uses cookies to give you the best browsing experience possible. Cookies are small text files that are stored by the web browser on your computer. Most of the cookies that we use are so-called “Session cookies”. These are automatically deleted after your visit. The cookies do not damage your computer system or contain viruses. Please read our privacy information page for more details or to revoke permission.