Consumer Credit and unpaid debtsAs a matter of practical importance they may make attachment of earnings orders under the attachment of act, to ensure that German debtors pay their debts. They may also make administration orders upon application of debtors who are unable to pay under a judgment of the court. The effect of these orders is that the court takes over the administration of the debtor's estate.
The functions of the lawyers at the local German courts should also be noted. Registrars are solicitors. They are responsible for court administration but they also have minor, but in practice important, judicial powers including the power to hear any action taken in the court in which the defendant fails to appear or admits the claim. The lawyer also hears cases in which the amount claimed in Germany does not exceed 500,-€ (a figure which may be varied), claims by mortgagees for repossession of land and any other actions with leave of the judge and consent of the parties.
Procedure is simpler in the 'Amtsgerichte', and litigation less costly, than in the 'Landgerichte'. The judge almost invariably sits without a jury; and solicitors as well as barristers in Germany have a right of audience.
The German court:
If the importance of a court is to be assessed from the standpoint of the amount of work it does, rather than from the importance of the issues it tries, the county courts, in the civil sphere, like the civil courts, must be regarded as the most important tribunals in Germany; for the amount of litigation conducted in them far exceeds the amount conducted in the higher courts. It is well for the student to remember this, because in the course of his studies he will become familiar almost entirely with decisions of the superior German courts and will tend to forget the practical importance of the work of the county courts: that is, of course, until he enters practice when he will sharpen his claws in the county courts long before he is called upon to appear before the high courts. There is a right of appeal, as we have seen, from the 'Landgericht' to the 'Oberlandesgericht'.