GRP Rainer LLP

International Rating Agencies Also Potentially Indictable in Germany

German investors who invest their money with foreign banks on the basis of the credit rating assessments of rating agencies can potentially recover their assets in the case of an erroneous assessment.


North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/08/2013 -- GRP Rainer Lawyers Tax Advisors, Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London explain: Investments abroad also appear to be continuing to increase in the banking sector. At the same time, the investor who is least familiar with the sector is grateful for any expert advice. The publications of so-called rating agencies that assess the credit rating of banks are therefore frequently relied upon.

Where these assessments subsequently proved to be potentially incorrect, many German investors who relied on them lost their capital.

To date it has been debatable whether the foreign agencies in these cases could also be sued in Germany. In its ruling of 13 December 2013 (Az. III ZR 282/11), the Federal Court of Justice has now clarified this issue. This was the result of a case in which a pensioner raised a claim for damages before a German court against a rating agency, which had given the bank with whom money was invested a good credit rating in the face of looming problems.

According to this court ruling, the local jurisdiction of German courts in the context of proprietary claims, including in the aforementioned cases, is based on the Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung (ZPO)). Thus, the decisive factor is not that the foreign rating agency possesses assets in Germany, but rather that the claimant is resident here.

In the opinion of the Court, the intention of the law is to present a catch-all clause for the cases in which residents assert claims against foreigners with assets located within Germany.

This ruling of the highest German civil court opens the door to potentially thousands of aggrieved investors to bring an action in Germany as the first important step against international rating agencies.

An experienced lawyer can help those affected assert their rights. It is also advisable in the face of possibly imminent prescription of claims to take a competent and expeditious approach with the help of an accomplished lawyer.

About GRP Rainer LLP is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London UK.

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