Jurisdiction (Foreign Witnesses) Case

CourtRegional Court (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No. 141
Germany, District Court of Göttingen.
Case No. 141
Jurisdiction (Foreign Witnesses) Case.

Jurisdiction — Aliens Abroad — Duty of Aliens to Appear as Witnesses — Aliens Subpœnaed Within the Jurisdiction.

Aliens — Duty of Foreigners to Appear as Witnesses — Foreigners Permanently Resident Abroad.

The Facts.—While on a temporary visit to Germany the appellant, who was a French citizen and resident in Paris, was subpœnaed to attend a trial as a witness. He wrote to the local Court that it was doubtful whether he would be in Germany when the action was heard, but that in any case he would let the Court know a week before the trial whether he would be able to attend. Up to the day of the trial no notice was received by the Court, but on the day of the trial the Court received a letter from a company to the effect that the appellant, who was a director of the company, would not be present at the hearing. The local Court did not regard this letter as a sufficient excuse. It therefore imposed on the appellant a fine of 50 Reichsmark or two days' arrest, and ordered him to pay the costs occasioned by his non-attendance. He appealed.

Held: that the appeal must be dismissed. The Court said: “Section 380 of the Code of Civil Procedure empowers the Court to fine a witness who fails to appear after subpœna. It is beyond any doubt that it is not only German subjects who are obliged to attend German courts as witnesses, but that the same applies to foreigners staying in Germany. The duty to attend as a witness is not of the same nature as a duty imposed on a national as such, as, e.g., the duty to serve in the armed forces or to attend trials as lay assessors. It is rather in the nature of a compulsion which the State exercises for the maintenance of law and order...

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