IX. The Judiciary
Article 92. [Court organisation]
The judicial power shall be vested in the judges; it shall be exercised by the Federal Constitutional Court, by the federal courts provided for in this Basic Law, and by the courts of the Länder.
Article 93. [Jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court]
- The Federal Constitutional Court shall rule:
- on the interpretation of this Basic Law in the event of disputes concerning the extent of the rights and duties of a supreme federal body or of other parties vested with rights of their own by this Basic Law or by the rules of procedure of a supreme federal body;
- in the event of disagreements or doubts concerning the formal or substantive compatibility of federal law or Land law with this Basic Law, or the compatibility of Land law with other federal law, on application of the Federal Government, of a Land government, or of one fourth of the Members of the Bundestag;
- in the event of disagreements whether a law meets the requirements of paragraph (2) of Article 72, on application of the Bundesrat or of the government or legislature of a Land;
- in the event of disagreements concerning the rights and duties of the Federation and the Länder, especially in the execution of federal law by the Länder and in the exercise of federal oversight;
- on other disputes involving public law between the Federation and the Länder, between different Länder, or within a Land, unless there is recourse to another court;
- on constitutional complaints, which may be filed by any person alleging that one of his basic rights or one of his rights under paragraph (4) of Article 20 or under Article 33, 38, 101, 103 or 104 has been infringed by public authority;
- on constitutional complaints filed by municipalities or associations of municipalities on the ground that their right to self-government under Article 28 has been infringed by a law; in the case of infringement by a Land law, however, only if the law cannot be challenged in the constitutional court of the Land;
- on constitutional complaints filed by associations concerning their non-recognition as political parties for an election to the Bundestag;
- in the other instances provided for in this Basic Law.
- At the request of the Bundesrat, a Land government or the parliamentary assembly of a Land, the Federal Constitutional Court shall also rule whether in cases falling under paragraph (4) of Article 72 the need for a regulation by federal law does not exist any longer or whether in the cases referred to in clause 1 of paragraph (2) of Article 125a federal law could not be enacted any longer. The Court’s determination that the need has ceased to exist or that federal law could no longer be enacted substitutes a federal law according to paragraph (4) of Article 72 or clause 2 of paragraph (2) of Article 125a. A request under the first sentence is admissible only if a bill falling under paragraph (4) of Article 72 or the second sentence of paragraph (2) of Article 125a has been rejected by the German Bundestag or if it has not been considered and determined upon within one year, or if a similar bill has been rejected by the Bundesrat.
- The Federal Constitutional Court shall also rule on such other matters as shall be assigned to it by a federal law.
Article 94. [Composition of the Federal Constitutional Court]
- The Federal Constitutional Court shall consist of federal judges and other members. Half the members of the Federal Constitutional Court shall be elected by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesrat. They may not be members of the Bundestag, of the Bundesrat, of the Federal Government, or of any of the corresponding bodies of a Land.
- The organisation and procedure of the Federal Constitutional Court shall be regulated by a federal law, which shall specify in which instances its decisions shall have the force of law. The law may require that all other legal remedies be exhausted before a constitutional complaint may be fi led, and may provide for a separate proceeding to determine whether the complaint will be accepted for decision.
Article 95. [Supreme federal courts]
- The Federation shall establish the Federal Court of Justice, the Federal Administrative Court, the Federal Finance Court, the Federal Labour Court and the Federal Social Court as supreme courts of ordinary, administrative, financial, labour and social jurisdiction.
- The judges of each of these courts shall be chosen jointly by the competent Federal Minister and a committee for the selection of judges consisting of the competent Land ministers and an equal number of members elected by the Bundestag.
- A Joint Chamber of the courts specified in paragraph (1) of this Article shall be established to preserve the uniformity of decisions. Details shall be regulated by a federal law.
Article 96. [Other federal courts]
- The Federation may establish a federal court for matters concerning industrial property rights.
- The Federation may establish federal military criminal courts for the Armed Forces. These courts may exercise criminal jurisdiction only during a state of defence or over members of the Armed Forces serving abroad or on board warships. Details shall be regulated by a federal law. These courts shall be under the aegis of the Federal Minister of Justice. Their full-time judges shall be persons qualified to hold judicial office.
- The supreme court of review from the courts designated in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this Article shall be the Federal Court of Justice.
- The Federation may establish federal courts for disciplinary proceedings against, and for proceedings on complaints by, persons in the federal public service.
- With the consent of the Bundesrat, a federal law may provide that courts of the Länder shall exercise federal jurisdiction over criminal proceedings in the following matters:
- crimes against humanity under international criminal law;
- war crimes;
- other acts tending to and undertaken with the intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations (paragraph (1) of Article 26);
- state security.
Article 97. [Judicial independence]
- Judges shall be independent and subject only to the law.
- Judges appointed permanently to full-time positions may be involuntarily dismissed, permanently or temporarily suspended, transferred or retired before the expiration of their term of office only by virtue of judicial decision and only for the reasons and in the manner specified by the laws. The legislature may set age limits for the retirement of judges appointed for life. In the event of changes in the structure of courts or in their districts, judges may be transferred to another court or removed from office, provided they retain their full salary.
Article 98. [Legal status of judges – Impeachment]
- The legal status of federal judges shall be regulated by a special federal law.
- If a federal judge infringes the principles of this Basic Law or the constitutional order of a Land in his official capacity or unofficially, the Federal Constitutional Court, upon application of the Bundestag, may by a two-thirds majority order that the judge be transferred or retired. In the case of an intentional infringement it may order him dismissed.
- The legal status of the judges in the Länder shall be regulated by special Land laws if clause 27 of paragraph (1) of Article 74 does not otherwise provide.
- The Länder may provide that Land judges shall be chosen jointly by the Land Minister of Justice and a committee for the selection of judges.
- The Länder may enact provisions regarding Land judges that correspond with those of paragraph (2) of this Article. Existing Land constitutional law shall not be affected. The decision in cases of judicial impeachment shall rest with the Federal Constitutional Court.
Article 99. [Constitutional disputes within a Land]
A Land law may assign the decision of constitutional disputes within a Land to the Federal Constitutional Court, and the final decision in matters involving the application of Land law to the supreme courts specified in paragraph (1) of Article 95.
Article 100. [Concrete judicial review]
- If a court concludes that a law on whose validity its decision depends is unconstitutional, the proceedings shall be stayed, and a decision shall be obtained from the Land court with jurisdiction over constitutional disputes where the constitution of a Land is held to be violated, or from the Federal Constitutional Court where this Basic Law is held to be violated. This provision shall also apply where the Basic Law is held to be violated by Land law and where a Land law is held to be incompatible with a federal law.
- If, in the course of litigation, doubt exists whether a rule of international law is an integral part of federal law and whether it directly creates rights and duties for the individual (Article 25), the court shall obtain a decision from the Federal Constitutional Court.
- If the constitutional court of a Land, in interpreting this Basic Law, proposes to deviate from a decision of the Federal Constitutional Court or of the constitutional court of another Land, it shall obtain a decision from the Federal Constitutional Court.
Article 101. [Ban on extraordinary courts]
- Extraordinary courts shall not be allowed. No one may be removed from the jurisdiction of his lawful judge.
- Courts for particular fields of law may be established only by a law.
Article 102. [Abolition of capital punishment]
Capital punishment is abolished.
Article 103. [Fair trial]
- In the courts every person shall be entitled to a hearing in accordance with law.
- An act may be punished only if it was defined by a law as a criminal offence before the act was committed.
- No person may be punished for the same act more than once under the general criminal laws.
Article 104. [Deprivation of liberty]
- Liberty of the person may be restricted only pursuant to a formal law and only in compliance with the procedures prescribed therein. Persons in custody may not be subjected to mental or physical mistreatment.
- Only a judge may rule upon the permissibility or continuation of any deprivation of liberty. If such a deprivation is not based on a judicial order, a judicial decision shall be obtained without delay. The police may hold no one in custody on their own authority beyond the end of the day following the arrest. Details shall be regulated by a law.
- Any person provisionally detained on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence shall be brought before a judge no later than the day following his arrest; the judge shall inform him of the reasons for the arrest, examine him, and give him an opportunity to raise objections. The judge shall, without delay, either issue a written arrest warrant setting forth the reasons therefor or order his release.
- A relative or a person enjoying the confidence of the person in custody shall be notified without delay of any judicial decision imposing or continuing a deprivation of liberty.