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In a significant development for press freedom in Germany, Cologne-based legal publisher Juve has won a battle allowing it to publish rankings of lawyers in its directory.
In 1999, Munich firm Kaufmann Lutz Stück Abel von Lojewski took Juve to the Munich county court to stop it from publishing lawyer rankings, on the basis that it was a breach of competition law. The court sided with Juve, so the law firm applied to the Munich appeal court, which in 2001 ruled in the firm's favour. Juve took its case to the High Court, which refused to hear its appeal. Juve then challenged the decisions, claiming they were an infringement of the German constitution.
In the spring of 2002, this argument was heard in the federal constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), which granted a temporary injunction allowing Juve to publish the rankings. It also overturned the ruling of the Munich appeal court, referring the case back to the lower courts.
In 2003, the Munich appeal court ruled in Juve's favour. Kaufmanns made one final appeal to the High Court, which last week made its decision in Juve's favour.
Juve publisher Astrid Gerber said: "Juve's activity and the development of the German legal market go hand-in-hand. Had the High Court decision gone against us, it would in any case have returned to the constitutional court."