At the Saxon Finance Court in Leipzig, all new incoming proceedings have been processed without paper since May 2nd. This is certainly only a small step for mankind, on the other hand, the digital success stories from the judiciary have been increasing in recent times. In Saxony, the civil courts reported enforcement of e-files as early as April, the same applies to North Rhine-Westphalia, where the district court in Bottropp was the latecomer. The courts have January 1, 2026 firmly in their sights, the date for nationwide digitization. All of Germany is working on the introduction of an electronic judiciary.
Whole Germany? A court with 16 judges resides on the Schlossplatz in Karlsruhe, which has so far been able to withstand the winds of change. In the mail room, an unadorned office with a carefully arranged ensemble of picture postcards above the desk, packages of paper complaints are piled up before being carted off to the neighboring building for sorting. Yellow-orange briefcases and light blue bundles of files as far as the eye can see. Electronic mail? Letters and faxes rule at the Federal Constitutional Court.
But now a report from Berlin makes you sit up and take notice. The federal government recently decided to introduce electronic legal transactions at the Federal Constitutional Court as well next year. “The digital constitutional complaint is coming,” said Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP). Of course, a simple e-mail is not enough, even in Karlsruhe you can only complain via secure channels, for example via De-Mail or via the lawyer’s electronic mailbox. Electronic communication will then even become mandatory for lawyers.
The move into the electronic age has been welcomed by litigation professionals such as the Society for Freedom Rights, if only because the period for filing complaints is short and time is therefore short. Of course, this eliminates the possibility of staging the “go to Karlsruhe” in a media-effective manner, as those four professors who wanted to stop the euro tried to do 25 years ago. On a January day, like Wyatt Earp and his men, they walked across the courtroom to file their 352-page complaint. Didn’t help, the euro stayed.
Nevertheless, the attempts to enlarge such lawsuits in the media persisted. In February 2008, a couple of civil rights activists from the working group on data retention dragged twelve moving boxes into the court foyer – with 34,443 powers of attorney for the largest constitutional complaint to date. This was topped eight years later with the Ceta free trade agreement with 125,000 plaintiffs; as the associations advanced with a transporter.
In the future, such major lawsuits will arrive in Karlsruhe with an electronic ping. Otherwise, Karlsruhe wants to maintain its cautious pace when it comes to digital progress. The mail may arrive digitally, but electronic files will not exist for the time being. As a precaution, the draft law states: “If the files are kept in paper form, a printout for the file must be made from an electronic document.”