An Amtsgericht in Germany is a local court . [1] 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. [2] 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, [3] 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.


  1. Jump up^ German Foreign Office: Equivalents of the names of German courts in other languages
  2. Jump up^ Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz (German Judiciary Act) §12,English translation
  3. Jump up^ A list of Amtsgerichte