An Amtsgericht in Germany is a local court .  These courts form the lowest level of the so-called ‘ordinary jurisdiction’ of the German judiciary (German Ordentliche Gerichtsbarkeit ), which is responsible for most criminal and civil judicial matters.  The German Amtsgericht may be compared to the magistrates’ courts in England and Wales .
The main areas of an Amtsgericht’s jurisdiction are:
- court of first instance for civil cases where the subject of litigation is worth 5,000 euros or less, and for litigation involving rental agreements, marriages, alimony and child custody.
- court of first instance for criminal cases where a fine or a sentence can not be imposed.
- the associations, the cooperatives and the land ownership register.
There are 640 Amtsgerichte in Germany,  with jurisdictional area typically comprising a small number of towns or municipalities. The next higher level of ordinary jurisdiction is called the Landgericht . The term Amtsgericht can also refer to the building where the proceedings take place.
- Jump up^ German Foreign Office: Equivalents of the names of German courts in other languages
- Jump up^ Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz (German Judiciary Act) §12,English translation
- Jump up^ A list of Amtsgerichte