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Germany: Court Rules Google Has No Duty to Check Websites for Defamatory Content Before Displaying Search Results

(Mar. 19, 2018) On February 27, 2018, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) ruled that Google is not obligated to prescreen websites for defamatory content before displaying links to them in its search results. (BGH, Feb. 27, 2018, Docket No. VI ZR 489/16, BGH website (not yet published); Press Release No. 39/2018, BGH, […]

Germany: Proposed Amendment to the Criminal Code Concerning Advertising Services for Abortion

(Mar. 19, 2018) On February 22, 2018, the German Bundestag (Parliament) debated draft acts introduced by three parliamentary groups concerning a provision in the Criminal Code that penalizes advertising services for abortion. The amendments would either abolish the provision or restrict its scope to cover only grossly offensive advertising. (Gesetzentwurf der Fraktion BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, […]

Germany: Federal Ministry of Finance Publishes Guidance on VAT Treatment of Virtual Currencies

(Mar. 13, 2018) On February 27, 2018, the German Federal Ministry of Finance published guidance on value-added-tax (VAT) treatment of bitcoin and other virtual currencies. It determined that transactions to exchange a traditional currency for bitcoin or other virtual currencies and vice versa constitute the taxable supply of other services for consideration, but fall under […]

Switzerland: Voters Reject Proposal to Abolish Public Broadcasting Fees

(Mar. 7, 2018) On March 4, 2018, Swiss voters rejected by a vote of 71.6% to 28.4% a popular initiative to abolish public broadcasting fees. Voter turnout was 54.4%. (Vorlage Nr. 617. Vorläufige amtliche Endergebnisse. Volksinitiative vom 11.12.2015 “Ja zur Abschaffung der Radio- und Fernsehgebühren (Abschaffung der Billag-Gebühren)” [Proposal No. 617, Preliminary Official Results: Popular […]

Germany: Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women Enters into Force

(Feb. 28, 2018) On February 1, 2018, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) entered into force in Germany. (Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), May 11, 2011, C.E.T.S. No. 210, Council of Europe website; Gesetz zu dem Übereinkommen […]

European Union: New EU Legislative Framework to Regulate Financial Markets Enters into Force

(Feb. 27, 2018) On January 3, 2018, the European Union’s (EU’s) Second Directive on Markets in Financial Instruments (MiFID II) entered into force with the main objective of strengthening investor protection and increasing transparency in financial markets. (Directive 2014/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on Markets in Financial […]

Germany: Islamic Umbrella Organizations Ruled Ineligible to Teach Religious Classes in Public Schools in North Rhine-Westphalia

(Feb. 27, 2018) In a decision published on January 10, 2018, the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia (OVG NRW), the highest state court in administrative law matters, held that the petitioners, two Islamic religious umbrella organizations, were not entitled to introduce Islamic religious classes in public schools as a permanent part of the school […]

Germany: Court Rules Costs for In Vitro Fertilization of Infertile Woman in Same-Sex Partnership Are Tax-Deductible

(Jan. 25, 2018) In a decision published on January 3, 2018, the German Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof, BFH), the supreme court in tax and customs matters, held that costs for in vitro fertilization (IVF) incurred by an infertile woman in a same-sex partnership are tax-deductible, reversing a lower court ruling. (BFH, Oct. 5, 2017, Docket No. VI […]

Germany: University Admission Rules for Medical Studies Partially Unconstitutional

(Jan. 16, 2018) On December 19, 2017, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) held that the federal framework and state implementing provisions regulating university admissions for medical studies at Germany’s public universities are partially incompatible with the German Basic Law, the country’s Constitution. The Court stated that the provisions infringe the applicants’ constitutional right […]

Switzerland: Revision of Adoption Law Enters into Force

(Jan. 4, 2018) On January 1, 2018, a revision of the Swiss adoption law entered into force. The amendment of the Civil Code allows stepchild adoption for same-sex registered partners and couples in a de facto marriage (cohabitation), lowers the minimum age for persons eligible to adopt, introduces a maximum age difference between adopted child […]