Forensic Accountant for Business Litigation in Germany

You need to understand German company accounts?

In order to win a business or corporate law suit, understanding the numbers is often equally important as knowing the legal aspects of the case. The same is true if you plan to acquire a German business. Thus, the German-British litigation lawyers as well as the M&A experts at Graf & Partners (www.grafegal.com) regularly team up with German forensic accountant Hermann Werle.

Hermann obtained his degree in business administration from Regensburg UAS in 1982. Throughout his 25 year career he then worked as inhouse accountant, head of controlling, CFO and company director / CEO for renowned German and international companies and was involved in a number of mergers including Mallinckrodt, Sherwood Davis & Geck and U.S.-Surgical. Thus, Hermann gained a wealth of professional experience in various industrial sectors. While his core competence is finance, he also has practical experience in HR, IT, purchasing, warehousing and distribution.

In 2014, Hermann set up his own financial consultancy firm and provides professional advice to German and international firms, often in collaboration with the German and British litigation lawyers of Graf & Partners. His main focus is on the areas:

  • forensic accounting in cross-border litigation cases and
  • German-British and German-American merger & acquisition deals (financial due diligence)

We have worked with Hermann Werle on dozens of business litigation cases as well as international mergers. Our German as well as our international clients have always been extremely impressed by his skills, in particular his ability to break down and explain the most complex situations to non-accountants, i.e. to litigation lawyers and judges.

More information on litigation and legal fees in Germany is available in these posts:

For more on German business and corporate law see these posts:

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Experts on German-British and German-American Legal Matters

Since 2003, the German business and corporate law firm Graf Partners LLP specialises in British-German and US-German legal cases. Our German business and corporate lawyers are native speaker level fluent in English, have many years of practical experience with clients from Britiain and the USA and are part of a well established network of law, tax and accounting firms.

Managing partner Bernhard Schmeilzl was admitted as German Rechtsanwalt (attorney at law) to the Munich Bar in 2001 and specialises in international cases ever since, with a focus on German-American and German-English commercial, corporate and also probate cases. In addition to obtaining his German legal exams with distinction, he also graduated from the English University of Leicester where he obtained his Master of Laws degree in EU Commercial Law in 2003.

In 2014, Graf Partners LLP has set up the international litigation department GP Chambers which focuses on providing professional litigation services to British and US-American clients, both on a commercial and a private client level. The Graf Partners litigation lawyers regularly appear before German law Courts throughout the country and provide specialist legal advice, support and advocacy services in all commercial and civil law matters, ranging from contract disputes, corporate litigation and employment, to damage claims, divorces and contentious probate. If you wish us to advise or represent you in a German or cross border case, or if you need an expert report on German law, please call +49 941 463 7070.

Chasing Debts in Germany

Some Practical Tips from German Litigation Experts GP Chambers LLP

If you are being owed money by a German debtor and this debtor refuses to pay even after having been served a dunning letter from a German lawyer, you will have to obtain a payment order which can then be enforced by a German bailiff (Gerichtsvollzieher) or by the German Court of Execution (Vollstreckungsgericht). Such a payment order is called “Vollstreckungstitel”, or just “Titel”.

To obtain this German “Titel” you can choose between applying for a simple payment order (Mahnbescheid and Vollstreckungsbescheid) which, at least in theory, is quicker and cheaper, but only works if the defendant accepts the claim or remains passive, i.e. does not react to the Mahnbescheid at all. In most cases, therefore, the application for a simple payment order will not be successful and you will only end up losing time and warning the debtor. In the majority of cases, the better approach is to initiate regular court proceedings right away, i.e. to commence a civil law suit before a German District Court, called Amtsgericht (for claims up to EUR 5,000) or a German High Court, called Landgericht, for claims in excess of EUR 5,000.

Solicitor_SchmeilzlSince German Civil Procedure Rules do not stipulate pre-action protocols to be followed, a German civil lawsuit can (and should) be initiated immediately. In fact, you should sue the debtor, before he or she sees the lawsuit coming, because many debtors try to dodge being served official court papers by removing their name from the letter box or even by moving. If, however, you have managed to properly serve the initial statement of claim (Klageschrift) to the defendant, then the defendant is officially notified of the German court action and is an official party to the proceedings. If the defendant then disappears without leaving a forwarding address, the court will issue a default judgement (Versäumnisurteil) against the debtor, which can – like any other German civil court order – be enforced against the debtor for 30 years.

The costs of a German civil law suit are significantly lower compared to the UK, mostly because the German legal system does not have the distinction between solicitors and barristers. Instead, like in the USA, a German lawyer will handle the entire case, in and out of court, and the lawyer will also enforce the payment order.

For more information about civil litigation in Germany see these posts:

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The law firm Graf & Partners was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German legal matters.The Anglo-German litigation lawyer team of GP Chambers is well equipped to advise and represent clients from the UK and other English speaking countries. If you wish us to advise or represent you in a German or cross border case, or if you need an expert report on German law, please call +49 941 463 7070 in order to contact German lawyer Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M. (Leicester), managing partner and head of the litigation department. Bernhard is also frequently asked by British and US Courts and Tribunals or by legal counsels to provide expert reports and legal opinions on German law.