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I was wondering, when a court sends out "invitations" for persons to appear at a court session, it usually includes a "you have to appear if not sick (or else)" clause.

Now naturally it can happen that two such court sessions intersect, especially if there are two different courts involved.

Question: Do I have a legal right to have one session be moved, or am I at least excused in such a case?

Common sense dictates yes, and I'm sure in most cases one can reason with the judges, but court doesn't always stick to common sense as I know. I want to know the legal right, not if it should work out in practice.

Note that I'm not seeking legal advice here, I'm just curious. Also, for the scope of the question, I had to restrict it to Germany (where I come from), but please feel free to add the situation in other countries in the comments.

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This is one situation where I suspect that Germany doesn't differ too much from the United States.

Ordinarily, you would contact both courts to explain the situation and ask how to obtain a rescheduling of one or both of the court dates. Sometimes, it would be necessary to make a written request to do so in advance of the hearing. Depending upon the nature of the request, it might also be possible to file something in lieu of a physical appearance (often with a lawyer's help), or to have a lawyer appear on your behalf instead of you.

Fortunately, failing to appear will probably have less severe consequences in Germany than in the United States, where it would be routine for a warrant for your arrest to issue immediately if you do not appear without permission from the court in advance to not appear. Germany tends to be less punitive with regard to trivial non-compliance with court demands.

  • What does "in lieu of a physical appearance" mean? And if I read your answer right, you basically rely on common sense of the courts, don't you? – SK19 May 10 '18 at 10:27
  • A "physical appearance" means showing up in person in a courtroom. There are sometimes hearings in the courts that call for you to show up in a courtroom to respond say, to a civil complaint for eviction or non-payment of a debt, for example, where you can file a written response to the charges by a deadline rather than showing up in person to respond to the charges. I wouldn't call it common sense. There is no reason to know what to do unless you have encountered courts in your life. And, court rules do provide guidance on these issues. But, often asking courts is the easiest way to find out. – ohwilleke May 10 '18 at 10:35

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