This FAQ deals with questions asked by persons seeking advise - see also our FAQ for advisors.
What cases are suitable for the Law Clinic?
The law clinic covers cases of civil law (contracts, torts, damages), criminal law and administrative law. We do not cover tax law, as tax advise is limited to qualfiied tax advisors under German Law.
Please note that not all cases are suitable for students - especially cases with high economic relevance are better suited for qualified (and paid) lawyers. As a guideline, we do not accept cases of 800 € or more.
When should I ask for legal advice at the Law Clinic?
The Law Clinic may be involved before taking a legally relevant decision (signing a contract, ordering goods or services, uploading content, picking an office in an association). More often however, we are consulted when things have already gone wrong - i.e. you received defective goods, fear losing your flat or job or have received a letter by a lawyer, administrative office or court you don't understand.
We are limited to advise out of court. We will make calls and write letters or email for you - but may not represent you in court. Under German Law, representation in court is expressly limited to lawyers.
Who may consult the Law Clinic?
The law clinic is open to anyone - students, professors, citizens from the street; persons in Duesseldorf, in Germany or even abroad. Hwoever, we reserve the right to prefer members of Heinrich-Heine-University in case of an excessive amount of requests.
How can and will mere students help you?
Advise is given by law students, not professional lawyers. They have access to a ressource a lawyer may lack in tiny cases: Time. Furthermore they have broad access to research facilities, including cases and legal literature. However, the legal framework does not grant them privileges or subject them to the same standard of care as a lawyer. THerefore, a student advisor may be requiresd to act as a witness against you in a court or be required to provide the court with documents. They have no right to access court files or files held by the public procecutor.
We do guarantee privacy by contractual agreement - your advisor will not inform third parties about you, your case or any other information gathered in the context of your request, unless under a court order. Furthermore we ensure full documentation and transparency through a digital database system.
Do I have to form a contract ?
Yes, legally any advise is given on the basis of a free mandate (sec. 662 of the German Civil Code). There is no formal requirement; the contract is formed by filling out our webform; a written document is not necessary.
What is the legal basis?
Any legal advise is given on the basis of part. 3 of the German Act on legal services ("Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG)"). According to sect. 6 RDG free legal advise may be given either by fully qualified lawyers (i.e. persons with two state exams) or other persons acting under their supervision. In case of the Law Clinic, advice is given by students under supervision by lawyers.
THe legal basis of the contract between your advisor and you is a free mandate (sec. 662 of the German Civil Code). This imposes legally binding duties and obligations on both parties:
- The mandatary must carry out the transaction entrusted to him by the mandator for the mandator gratuitously (sec. 662 of the German Civil Code).
- The mandatary must follow any instructions given by the mandator. However, he may deviate if he informs the mandator in advance and awaits his decision or in case of emergency (sec. 665 s. 2 of the German Civil Code).
- The mandatary may not transfer his duties and obligations to third parties; if he involves helpers he is liable for their misconduct (sec. 664 of the German Civil Code).
- The mandatary must notifiy the mandator if a mandate is rejected (sec. 663 of the German Civil Code).
- The mandatary must provide the necessary reports and information to the mandator and answer any questions pertaining thereto (sec. 666 of the German Civil Code).
- The mandatary must return everything received to perform the mandate or obtained thereby to the mandatory (sec. 667 of the German Civil Code).
- The mandator must reimburse the mandatary for any actual and necessary expenses (sec. 670 of the German Civil Code).
How much does legal advise by students cost?
Legal advise by non-lawyers is only allowed as a free service. Therefore, our service is provided for free; even gifts or other benefits to your advisor are expressly prohibited. However, you may be liable for any costs incurred by your advisor, e.g. costs for phone calls or postage for letters.
What about liability for wrong advise?
Students are not subject to the same standard of care as professional (and paid for) lawyers. However, intentional or grossly negligent wrongful advise are inacceptable even in a gratuitous relationship. If you suffer a loss due to wrong advise you may seek damages from the respective students (if and only if) he acted intentionally or at least grossly negligent (i.e. did not see what was evident to anyone).Please note that neither the instructors nor the University or Faculty are liable.