Find Lawyers in Cologne, Germany for Banking and Finance Law

Practice Area Overview

The term banking law as used for the methodology of this guide encompasses (1) the legal regime applicable to banks due to the nature of their organization and business segments, as well as (2) the rules of law applicable to the types of transactions banks are conducting as part of their business model.

The first segment of banking law, which is often referred to as banking regulation, has since the financial crisis in the last decade developed from a relatively unspectacular discipline, on which only a few selected and highly specialized — very often in-house — lawyers were focused, to a dramatically expanding field of law fueled by the ever increasing worldwide, European, and national banking legislation. In addition to the international framework and its implementation in domestic German law, the creation of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt has substantially enhanced the demand for qualified banking regulatory specialists in the German market. A number of top tier law firm trained lawyers have meanwhile joined the ECB, the BaFin (the German banking regulator) and the legal departments of banks of every size. Nothing today leads to believe that this trend is going to be inversed soon, and presently all notable domestic and international law firms active in the German market have beefed up their banking regulatory capabilities, or actually for the first time have created such banking regulatory teams.

The second segment of banking law comprises the legal regime applicable to any kind of services and transactions banking institutions are rendering to their clients. Within this broad range, it can be differentiated among the rules applicable to traditional account handling and payment services, those regulating the banks’ financing business and taking of security interests and finally the legal framework of any securities and investment transactions. The common legal framework for these banking disciplines remains the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB), which contains the main principles governing most of these banking transactions. Due to the high level of codification in German civil and commercial law, German law governed transaction documents, e.g. loan agreements, bond documentation, and security documents can be in substantially shorter form than their counterparts governed by English law or U.S. law which leads to leaner documentation structures, particularly if only domestic parties are involved.

Bernhard Gemmel
Partner, Frankfurt Dentons U.S.
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