COVID-19 Legal Update: Effects on litigation proceedings

Interruption of procedural deadlines

15 April 2020 – need2know

In legal proceedings, all procedural time limits whose triggering events occurred after 22 March 2020 or had not yet expired by that date are currently suspended. The time limits will begin to run anew on 1 May 2020.

Courts can determine exceptions and shorter interruptions of time limits by decision (which would not be contestable in civil and non-contentious proceedings). However, competent authorities may only make use of this possibility if the continuation of the proceedings is urgently necessary in order to avert a danger to life and limb, security and freedom, or to prevent substantial and irreparable damage to a party to the proceedings. This concerns, for example, proceedings for interim measures or dispositions.

Suspension of continuation of substantive deadlines

Substantive deadlines for filing an action or making a declaration with a court are suspended until 30 April 2020. These include, in particular, limitation periods, the period for contesting termination, the period for contesting decisions by a municipality acting as a conciliation body in tenancy law cases, or the period for bringing an action for possession. In contrast to the procedural time limits described above, these time limits will start or begin to run again on 1 May 2020 (suspension of running time).

It should be noted, however, that this does not apply to such substantive legal time limits which do not have to be set by the court (but e.g. by the contractual partner; or e.g. obligations to notify defects, presumption of the defectiveness of goods, etc.).

Extension of the measures

The Federal Ministry of Justice may, by ordinance, extend the ordered general interruption of time limits if this is necessary to prevent and combat the dissemination of COVID-19.


Please note that the information provided here is not a substitute for legal advice. The regulations presented here can be changed by the legislator on short notice. We therefore invite you to visit our information area on a regular basis.


Authors: Florian Neumayr, David Pukel

Practice Group

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