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.

Pursuing Legal Action in Germany?

You found the German law firm perfectly equipped to address your legal needs in Germany

Since 2003, German law firm Graf & Partners specialises in providing legal advice and litigation services to British and American clients. The majority of our clients come from Britain, the USA or other English speaking countries and are in need of pursuing a legal matter in Germany. If you need a competent and trustworthy attorney anywhere in Germany, our experienced contract lawyers and bilingual litigators will be happy to assist.

The firm’s managing partner Bernhard Schmeilzl and several other lawyers in our litigation team have studied and worked in the USA and/or Britain. As a result, Graft & Partners have established a unique and impressive international legal practice, which focuses specifically on British-German and German-American legal cases and issues. Our Anglo-German lawyer team is headed by British and Canadian citizen Elissa Jelowicki, a qualified English solicitor, and Registered European Lawyer, admitted to the Munich Bar Association. Therefore, foreign clients and instructing lawyers from the UK and America are able to discuss their specific case with a native English speaker, who also knows the English legal system.

Our German and British litigation lawyers appear before German law Courts throughout the country and are also experienced in (Commercial) Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution. We provide specialist legal advice, support and forensic services in all commercial and civil law matters, ranging from contract disputes, corporate litigation and employment, to damage claims and contentious probate. In addition, our family law experts deal with international divorces and child custody matters. In relation to other legal areas, e.g. criminal law or tax, we will be happy to recommend qualified German lawyers from other chambers, who are also fluent in English.

On a regular basis, we speak on German-American and British-German legal issues at lawyer conventions and at in-house events of international companies and law firms. See here for some of the topics we have spoken on recently:

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

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Call the experts on German-British and German-American legal matters

Since 2003, the German law firm Graf Partners LLP with its headquarters in Munich specialises in British-German and US-German legal cases. Our German lawyers are 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.

Bernhard Schmeilzl_crop1Managing partner Bernhard Schmeilzl was admitted as German Rechtsanwalt (attorney at law) to the Munich Bar in 2001 and specialises in international cases ever since, especially German-American and German-English commercial and 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.

German Litigation Experts explain Civil Procedure Rules

Court procedures in Germany follow very different rules compared to Britain and the USA. There is, for instance, no pre-action protocol, no pre-trial discovery, no need for written witness statements, no direct examination of witnesses by the lawyers and – of course – no jury. Instead, there is a very extensive exchange of written statements to the court, followed by an – in most cases comparatively brief – oral hearing before the judge. Thus, British and US clients are often frustrated by these very different rules, which they do not fully understand. It sometimes looks to British and US litigators as if their German trial lawyer is too passive, because he does not contact witnesses, request the disclosure of documents from the opponent, prepare affidavits and discuss witness examination strategy.

Well, in most cases, the German litigation lawyer is not being lazy at all. He or she simply knows the German Civil Procedure Rules (Zivilprozessordnung) and focuses on the really important issues: the written statements to the court. In many cases, the outcome of a German lawsuit is rather clear to the parties and the judge before they even set foot in the courtroom, except in rare cases where the outcome of a trial really depends on what a witness states in court. In all the other cases, the parties will have discussed the case extensively through their briefs to the judge: Statement of Claim (Klageschrift), Response (Klageerwiderung), Replication (Replik) and Rejoinder (Duplik). It is not uncommon that the judge issues an interim appraisal to the parties or even proposes a settlement based on the statements.

At the actual court hearing itself, the German judge will give an opening statement summarizing the facts of the case and will, in most cases, also give an indication as to which side may have the better chances of success. This opening statement is followed by a rather informal discussion with the parties in order to ascertain whether or not there is a chance to settle the dispute. If this fails, then the judge will open the formal part of the court session, let the parties plead and – where relevant – hear witnesses. This hearing of witnesses in a German civil court is – compared to witness examination in Britain, and especially the US – a very brief matter. It is very rare for a witness in a German civil courtroom to be questioned for more than 10 minutes. This is due to the fact that the judge does the questioning, not the parties, and the judge focuses exclusively on the contentious facts.

After the witness examination, the judge asks the parties again whether – in light of what the witnesses have said – they are now willing to settle. If not, then court is adjourned and the court ruling (Urteil) is sent to the parties a few weeks (or even months) later.

To a litigation lawyer coming from the Common law system, German civil procedure, and especially the courtroom, atmosphere seem shockingly lame. There is no dramatic cross examination of witnesses, no pleading to a jury, but instead many briefs and then a written court ruling, which is simply sent out to the parties whenever the court is ready. But do not be mistaken: What a German litigation lawyer writes and how he writes it, what questions a litigator requests the judge to pose to a witness or an expert and how the case is presented in the oral hearing discussion – even if it is an informal one – can be very decisive.

It certainly helps British or US clients who are involved in a German trial to hire a lawyer who is not only fluent in English, but who also understands the basic issues from an English or US legal system, so he or she can explain the differences and prepare the client for what will happen (and what will not happen) in a German court or arbitration case.

More information on litigation and legal fees in Germany is available in 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.