Tort law

Various situations can lead to the entitlement of damages and compensation for pain and suffering, e.g., violent crimes, violations of the right of personality or accidents (more information can be found in German under “Verkehrsrecht”). The specialization of our attorneys allows for comprehensive legal advice and representation in these situations.

Claims against the perpetrator

Where the criminal conviction cannot fulfil the need of retribution for the victim, an additional monetary sacrifice can be demanded. Victims can claim damages and compensation for pain and suffering from the perpetrator. The so-called adhesion procedure enables the aggrieved person (or surviving relative) to bring pecuniary claims against the accused in criminal proceedings (more information can be found under “Representation of victims”). Alternatively, the aggrievedperson can enforce the claims in civil proceedings. The civil court in the jurisdiction of the site of crime then has jurisdiction. Local courts have jurisdiction for disputes over an amount not exceeding the sum of 5.000 €, thereon regional courts have jurisdiction. The representation by an attorney is not mandatory when local courts have jurisdiction, while parties to disputes before the regional courts and the higher regional courts must be represented by an attorney. Damage claims based on intentional injury to life, limb, health, liberty or sexual self-determination are statute-barred after thirty years.

We advise our clients on possible claims and whether they can be enforced effectively. If the case is heard before the criminal court, we apply for the inspection of files to collect relevant information. We further research relevant case law to calculate a realistic amount of the claim. Complicated healing processes, irreversible damage to health and mental consequences are regularly considered for the assessment of the amount. Subsequently, we enforce your claim in extra-judicial and judicial proceedings against the perpetrator.

The civil procedure is costly: Court costs and lawyers’ fees determined by the subject-matter arise. The civil court decides on who bears the legal costs. Attention: Perpetrators frequently do not dispose of substantial financial needs and, consequently, cannot amortize the compensation. In this scenario the conviction of the perpetrator merely fulfills a declaratory or punitive character. It, therefore, is essential that the civil proceedings do not result in additional costs for the victim. The individual can apply for legal aid, if applicable. Further, legal insurances may cover the civil procedure (Attention: Please be informed in advance!).

Claims against a third party

There are scenarios, where actions against the perpetrator are not promising or cannot be enforced. For example, the perpetrator may remain unidentified, disappeared, died or is without resources. This raises the question, are the person concerned entitled to pecuniary claims against a third party, e.g. private and public establishments? The entitlement to pecuniary claims may arise out of a culpable breach of duty (e.g. obligatory supervision), which enabled the violent crime to occur in the first place. Procedures against third parties are very time-consuming. The complexity often consists of proving the breach of duty as well as the causality between the damage and the breach of duty in front of court. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. We are pleased to advise you on the prospects of pecuniary claims against a third party as well.


Roland Weber MBE
Roland Weber MBE

Attorney-at-law and specialist lawyer for criminal law
Victim Commissioner of Berlin, Germany

Representation of victims, Criminal law, Tort law