Berlin Social Court
The Berlin Social Court (Sozialgericht Berlin) is the largest Social Court in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is responsible for the entire city of Berlin. Currently, about 350 people are employed at the Court, more than 120 of which are judges. In 2020 alone, almost 22.000 new claims were registered.
The Court is situated right in the heart of Berlin, in the district of Mitte (locality of Moabit), diagonally opposite the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and within sight of the Reichstag Building. Until the fall of the wall in 1989, the Invalidenstraße border crossing point was just a stone’s throw away from the court building.
The President of the Berlin Social Court is Hans-Christian Helbig (appointed in 2019). He is in charge of the management and administration of the Court.
The Berlin Social Court deals with a wide range of issues, including claims in connection with the statutory insurance systems (pension, accident, health, unemployment and long-term care insurance), claims concerning the status as a handicapped person and claims for state compensation arising from damage to health. Since January 2005, due to a large-scale labour market reform, the Court has also been responsible for disputes about basic security benefits for job-seekers (“Hartz IV” benefits) and about social assistance. Today, Hartz IV claims make up the majority of the cases (roughly 42%) submitted to the Court.
Each chamber of the Berlin Social Court is chaired by a professional judge. The professional judges are assisted by two lay judges during the court hearings and the subsequent consultations. The lay judges have the same rights and duties as the respective professional judge, particularly with regard to the decision making.
Within a three-level system of proceedings, the Berlin Social Court is a court of first instance. Therefore, the disputes decided by the Berlin Social Court may proceed to the Higher Social Court of Berlin-Brandenburg (Landessozialgericht Berlin-Brandenburg). The highest court is the Federal Social Court (Bundessozialgericht). It deals only with appeals concerning points of law.