HCLC - FAQ
1. What kind of cases can I refer to the Humboldt Consumer Law Clinic?
You can contact the HCLC regarding all questions related to consumer law (incl. the law of unfair competition). However, because legal advice is given by students who have not yet graduated from law school, we are precluded from dealing with some cases. We therefore ask that you understand that very complex and comprehensive cases regrettably cannot be dealt with by the HCLC. Moreover, we can only accept cases with claims below € 1000. As of September 2014 the HCLC will be also be advising new entrepreneurs on matters relating to contract law.
2. What kind of legal advice can the HCLC offer?
Our counsellors can assist you in solving legal problems relating to consumer law. However, we can only advise you 'out of court', i.e. provide advice, make telephone calls, write letters and draft pleadings. Legal representation in court, in consumer law disputes requires an advocate, and therefore we are unable to provide this service.
3. Who may turn to the HCLC?
Anybody may receive the services of the HCLC. But please understand that our capacity and ressources are limited by the fact that only a few teams of counsellors are available to assist. Priority is given to the requests of students and employees of the Humboldt University.
4. Who are the counsellors of the HCLC?
Our counsellors are students at the Law School of the Humboldt University who give legal advice under the guidance of a lawyer who is required to be qualified for judgeship in Germany. Most of the students are in the third year of their studies. They will at all times endeavor to take the greatest possible care when working on your case.
5. Is it necessary that I conclude a contract with the HCLC?
If your case is taken on by us, the HCLC will conclude a "consultancy agreement" with you. However, you are requested to kindly submit your case, as a first step. If, after a preliminary review, your case is found suitable for the HCLC, we will send you the contract to be concluded. Your data will be treated confidentially and will not be forwarded to third parties.
6. What are the legal bases of the legal counselling?
The Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (Legal Services Act) contains, in Part 3 thereof, provisions on legal advice by persons who are not admitted to practise as lawyers. Section 6 paragraph 2 of the Legal Services Act sets out rules for the provision of gratuitous legal advice. According to such rules, legal advice may be given by a lay person if he or she is guided by a lawyer qualified for judgeship in Germany. The contract you conclude with our counsellors amounts to a mandate within the meaning of the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (German Civil Code). Therefore, mutual rights and obligations arise from this contract:
- According to Section 662 of the German Civil Code, the mandatory agrees to carry out a transaction entrusted to him by the mandator, for the mandator gratuitously.
- According to Section 665 Sentence 2 of the German Civil Code, the mandatary must follow the instructions of the mandator. The mandatory is only entitled to deviate from these instructions if he is entitled to assume in the circumstances that the mandator would approve of such deviation if he were aware of the factual situation. The mandatory must notify to the mandator prior to any such deviation and must await the decision of the latter, unless postponement would entail danger.
- According to Section 664 of the German Civil Code, the mandatary may not transfer the performance of the mandate to a third party. If he does so, he is liable for fault on the part of such third party.
- According to Section 663 of the German Civil Code, the mandatory is obliged, when he does not accept a mandate to perform a transaction, to notify the mandator of the refusal without undue delay.
- According to Section 666 of the German Civil Code, the mandatory is obliged to provide the mandator with the required reports, and on demand to provide information on the status of the transaction and after carrying out the mandate to render an account for it.
- According to Section 667 of the German Civil Code, the mandatary is obliged to return to the mandator everything he receives to perform the mandate and whatever he obtains from carrying out the transaction (eg. documents).
- According to Section 670 of the German Civil Code, the mandator is obliged to make reimbursement to the mandatory, if the mandatory, for the purpose of performing the mandate, incurs expenses that he may consider to be necessary in the circumstances.
7. Do I have to pay for the counselling by the HCLC?
The counselling is free! Even voluntary financial donations are not allowed. However, any costs which we may incur for postage and telephone calls must be reimbursed.
8. What do the counsellors receive in return for their counselling?
After their successful participation in the one-year course of the HCLC, all advisors of the HCLC receive a certificate of attendance and earn study points.
9. Is my case treated confidentially?
Yes. A statement of nondisclosure and confidentiality is signed with your counsellor.
10. How can I submit a case?
If you are interested in receiving the services of the Humboldt Consumer Law Clinic, you can submit your case by writing an e-mail to: email@example.com. In the e-mail you should include your contact details and state briefly your problem. After a thorough preliminary examination of your case, we will get in touch with you.
11. How will my counselling proceed?
After a successful preliminary examination, your case will be handed over to a team of 2-3 advisors assigned to a supervisor who is required to be a lawyer qualified for judgeship in Germany. The exact process going forward will then be discussed with you by your team of advisors. The counselling is done on an individual basis, and can be performed in writing or during consultations in person. Please be aware that your contract is concluded with the counsellors (students), and not with the professors supporting them or their fully qualified supervisors.
12. What about liability?
The advisor promises diligent legal advice, but, as with an attorney, cannot promise success in the legal outcome. The students who act as counsellors cannot be held liable to the same extent as attorneys can. Their liability for slight negligence is excluded, but they are liable for intent and gross negligence. Please be aware that your contract is concluded with the counsellors (students) and not with the professors supporting them or their fully qualified supervisors. Therefore, no claims against these persons can exist.
13. Is my case published?
At the end of the advisory activity the legal issues of your case and the results of the counselling will be presented to the advisors to improve the learning process for all students of the HCLC. However, the cases are always presented anonymously.