Experts on U.S.-German Law & Anglo-German Law

CrossChannelLawyers.co.uk and its German language counterpart Cross-Channel-Lawyers.de are law blogs (blawgs) dealing with Anglo-German legal issues. A network of international lawyers who are experienced in cross border legal problems and who give practical and reliable advice. The law blogs are run by the lawyers of Graf & Partners, a firm of English solicitors and German Rechtsanwälte with many years of professional experience in cross border legal proceedings, who provide legal advice in a comprehensive, understandable and user-oriented manner. Our litigation department provides forensic services all across Germany and runs the expert law blog German Civil Procedure. Graf & Partners, with its international expertise, is well equipped to advise and represent clients from the USA, the United Kingdom and other English speaking countries.

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Business in GermanyGerman LawLitigation in Germany

British Solicitors: better brace for a cliff-edge Brexit

“Brexit not the end of the world” Theresa May recently statedthat a no-deal Brexit ‘wouldn’t be the end of the world’. How reassuring! If you are an English or Scottish solicitor who specialises in international law, such a rock hard Brexit may, however, well be the end of your career as an internation lawyer. Because in case of an ever more likely no-deal scenario, English solicitors will no longer be able to provide legal services…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 30, 2018
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

How to Limit the Personal Liability of Executors and Beneficiaries in German Probate Cases

Using "Public Creditor Notification" (Aufgebotsverfahren) to restrict liability to the funds available in the German estate Under German succession laws, a beneficiary (Erbe) is personally liable for the debts of the decedent, i.e. if the debts of the deceased exceed the value of the estate then the beneficiaries must pay the remaining debts out of their own pockets. More here.   Obviously, no beneficiary in his or her right mind wants that result (except for…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 9, 2018
Austrian ProbateGerman LawGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

German Probate: What to do if a beneficiary (co-heir) cannot be found?

Does anyone know where Great-Granduncle Fritz lives? In some probate cases (Nachlassverfahren), especially if a decedent had no children, no surviving spouse and no surviving siblings, the next of kin cannot be located, either because the relevant persons have died so long ago that the closest living relatives of the testator can’t be identified (e.g. died in the war) or because they have moved to another country and nobody knows their whereabouts. Even if only…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 7, 2018
German LawGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

Entangled in German Probate Proceedings?

Renounce Inheritance against Compensation Payment In this post, we reveal a simple trick how to be released from the duties and obligations of being a German co-heir while still obtaining a portion of the German estate. The buzzwords are "Verpflichtung zur Ausschlagung gegen Abfindung", i.e. contract to renounce a German inheritance against compensatory payment (make-up pay). Background: The Basics of German Probate and Estate Administration In previous posts, we have explained German succession rules, the…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
August 7, 2018
German LawGerman ProbateInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

Does anyone know about Great-Granduncle Fritz?

What to do in Germany when an Heir (Beneficiary) cannot be found In Germany, due to the principle of universal succession (which is governed by  §§ 1922, 1937 BGB of the German Civil Code), it is the heir´s duty to look after the estate. Under German inheritance law, there is no personal representative to take possession of the estate. The German Probate Court (“Nachlassgericht”) will also not interfere with the administration of the estate. The…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 23, 2018
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational Probate

Indebted Estate: How to avoid inheriting your German Relatives’ Debts

Make sure to renounce (disclaim) an Inheritance from Germany if you fear that the Decedent had severe Debts For English lawyers it is a rather shocking concept: The relatives of a deceased person or the beneficiaries mentioned in a Will can be fully personally liable for the debts of the deceased. Without any limitation.For details see here. Hard to understand from the perspective of Common Law jurisdictions, but this is exactly what the German legal…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 3, 2018
Austrian Inheritance LawAustrian ProbateGerman ProbateInternational Probate

Austrian Probate: How to Access Assets in Austria?

British Testator owned a Bank Account in Austria: Will an English Grant be accepted in Austria? No, unfortunately, it will not. If a British person who owns assets in Austria dies, the personal representative needs to obtain a separate Austrian grant of probate. The English grant is rather worthless in Austria, just as an Austrian (or German or French etc) grant of probate is not being accepted within the United Kingdom, because the UK has…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
July 2, 2018
Business in GermanyCivil actionGerman Corporate LawGerman Tort LawStarting BusinessStarting or Expanding Business

Director’s Duties and Liabilities under German Law

What are the Duties of Directors of German Companies (GmbH) and Corporations (Aktiengesellschaft)? Obviously, pretty much all over the world, company directors and CEO’s have a general duty to be loyal, diligent and conscientious in managing the affairs of their company. This is also the case under German law. Directors and CEOs have to bear in mind what is best for the business and act accordingly. In this regard, German courts do apply an objective…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 22, 2018
Criminal Law

Prosecuted in Germany?

German defense lawyer Alexander Greithaner specialises in international criminal cases and represents foreign clients in all areas of criminal law. Due to his international family background he is fluent in English, Spanish and, of course, German. First things first: If accused of a crime or misdemeanor in Germany, never make any kind of statement to the German police, German customs (Zoll) or any other German prosecution authority. This piece of advice sounds commonplace but many…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 11, 2018
Austrian Inheritance LawAustrian Probate

How to deal with Estates in Austria

Probate Proceedings in Austria are very different from those in Germany If a decedent who was not resident in Austria owned any assets in Austria at the time of his or her death, this Austrian Estate can only be accessed after going through formal Austrian Probate. Neither an English Grant of Probate nor a German Certificate of Inheritance will enable the executors or beneficiaries to access the Austrian assets, because Austrian banks, brokers, insurance companies…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
June 11, 2018
Business in GermanyCyberlawGeneralGerman Corporate Law

Google Analytics vs. GDPR – is that even possible?

We are currently receiving many inquiries from uncertain clients regarding the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). During an initial analysis of the homepage, it immediately becomes apparent that most clients use an analysis tool - mostly Google Analytics or Matomo (formerly Piwik). Such tools are useful and indispensable for good online marketing. But now the question arises: to what extent can these tools still be used to be compliant with the GDPR? Admittedly, we…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
May 20, 2018
Business in GermanyCyberlawGeneralGerman Corporate Law

Data Protection and German Businesses: New GDPR 2018 will cause a Flood of Lawsuits

Company Managers and British Parent Companies of German Subsidiaries better take this issue very seriously, because the German version of the GDPR is much stricter than the GDPR rules as applied in the UK. So if you are running a business in Germany, you should ensure that your German company is in full compliance. For instance in accounting and human resources. Because the German business mentality is to torture competitors with costly cease and desist…
Criminal LawGeneral

We have no “Mike Wright” – Fraudsters use our firm’s name

Sooner or later, every international law firm faces the problem of their name being used for spam mails or fraud attempts. Currently, i.e. April 2018, it seems to be our turn. Some idiots have sent out thousands of emails claiming to be "Grafpartners-Solicitors". These spam emails look like this and come with an attachment: Please do not open the attachment and also do not respond to them, since we have nothing to do with this.…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
April 23, 2018
German Labor LawGerman Law

Post-Contractual Non-Compete Clauses in German Employment Agreements

... and how to get rid of them Many employers want to prevent their employees to work for competitors when the employment ends. Under German labor law, this can be achieved by putting a post-contractual non-compete clause (nachvertragliches Wettbewerbsverbot) in the employment contract. The typical standard wording for such a non compete clause would be this: The Employee shall not, for a period of 24 months following the end of the employment and within the…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
March 21, 2018
German LawGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax LawWills and Succession Planning

If your Parent or Child passes away while having been resident in Germany…

... then German Succession Rules do apply to the Estate! Since August 2015, all EU members (except for UK, Ireland and Denmark) apply the same basic rule: The national succession laws of that country shall apply in which the decedent had his or her last habitual residence (EU Succession Regulation, EU 650/2012). Thus, if your parent or your child has been permanently living in - for instance - Germany, France or Spain and sadly dies…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
March 6, 2018
Austrian ProbateGerman ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInheritance Law SwitzerlandSwiss Probate

This is what a Swiss Grant of Probate really looks like

Sample Certificate of Inheritance issued by Switzerland Probate Court (Zurich) We, the German-British law firm Graf & Partners, specialise in international probate matters as well as estate planning in all German speaking countries, i.e. Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Thus, we are often approached by clients who need to apply for a grant of probate in these countries. Also, we are sometimes approached by clients who fell for an online inheritance scam. In order to…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 26, 2018
German LawGerman Succession & Inheritance LawGerman Tax LawWills and Succession Planning

“I want to make a Gift to my Child in Germany…”

... but my son-in-law / daughter-in-law shall not benefit from such a gift or inheritance! Is that possible under German law? Yes, it certainly is possible. Spouses are sometimes under the impression that they have an automatic entitlement to any gift the other spouse receives, whether as a lifetime gift or as an inheritance. Simply by virtue of the fact they are married. Under German law, this is certainly not the case. Unless the spouses…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
February 8, 2018
German ProbateGerman Succession & Inheritance LawInternational ProbateWills and Succession Planning

How to deposit a Will in Germany

Keep your German will at home or have it registered with German probate court? If you live in Germany or have significant assets there you should consider making a separate last will with regard to those German assets. If you do so, the question arises where to store the will. In case you opted for a so called public will (i.e. a will recorded before a German notary), an official copy of your German will…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
January 26, 2018
Business in GermanyCivil actionGerman Corporate LawGerman LawGoing to courtLitigation in GermanyStarting Business

Harsh “Unfair Competition” Rules in Germany

The German Habit of sending out Cease and Desist Letters to Competitors When you start trading in Germany you may be in for unpleasant surprises. The first letter your German subsidiary receives may likely be a formal cease and desist notice sent by your competitor's lawyers. Why? Because under German unfair competition laws, every business has the right to formally demand competitors to fully comply with any and all German laws. And there are many…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
January 25, 2018
Civil actionContract TemplatesDebt collectionGerman LawGoing to courtLitigation in Germany

Your German Debtor asks for Relief from Payment?

Then you should use this opportunity to obtain a so called "abstraktes Schuldanerkenntnis" (an autonomous acknowledgement of debt) from your German debtor. This is sometimes also called "selbstständiges Schuldanerkenntnis" or "Schuldversprechen". In other words: You agree to grant the debtor a moratorium (or a deferred payment) of a few weeks or months, but only under the condition that the debtor signs a Schuldanerkenntnis (a formal "I owe you"). Such a written debt acknowledgment according to…
Bernhard Schmeilzl
January 24, 2018