Dr. Martin Kessen (LL.M. ’07) Appointed Judge at German Federal Court of Justice

Dr. Martin Kessen (LL.M. ’07) was appointed judge at the Federal Court of Justice earlier this year. The Federal Court of Justice is Germany’s highest court of civil and criminal jurisdiction. The Federal Court of Justice was instituted on 1 October 1950 and has its seat in Karlsruhe.

The task of the Federal Court of Justice is primarily to ensure uniform application of law, clarify fundamental points of law and develop the law. In general, it reviews rulings of the lower courts only with regard to errors of law. Even if the binding effect of the judgments and rulings of the Federal Court of Justice is technically confined to the respective case decided, in practice the lower courts follow its interpretation of the law virtually without exception. The far-reaching effect of rulings of the Federal Court of Justice is also due to the fact that, particularly in the field of civil law, legal practice is often guided by these rulings. Banks and insurance companies as well as landlords and divorce lawyers respond to a “ruling from Karlsruhe.”

Prior to his appointment at the German Federal Court of Justice, Dr. Kessen was a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Cologne. He is also lecturer in the LL.M. Program in Media Law & Media Management at the Technical University of Cologne.

Through the generous support of the MD Anderson Foundation, the Institute for Transnational Law supported Dr. Kessen in his pursuit of an LL.M. (Master of Laws) from The University of Texas School of Law as part of its long-standing Foreign Judge Fellowship Program. Dr. Kessen earned his LL.M. from The University of Texas School of Law in 2007 following the successful completion of a 2006-2007 MD Anderson Foreign Judge Fellowship.