DEALING WITH MOTOR VEHICLES IN GERMANY
Essentially, the position of motor vehicles in Germany as assets of the bankruptcy estate is no different to the position if the vehicle was in England and Wales. If the vehicle is claimed as exempt property, it may be treated as so (if appropriate) and, if not, it may be realised for the benefit of the estate.
This Part should, therefore, be read in conjunction with Chapter 31.2 – Motor Vehicles.
In Germany, a motor vehicle is initially registered with the local vehicle registration office (Autozulassungsstelle), which issues the registration document (Kraftfahrzeugbrief). The registration document accompanies the car through its life and passes from owner to owner. The vehicle can not be sold without the registration document.
Whilst the national motor transport authority is responsible for collating registration data (see paragraph 43.1.47), the transport ministries of the federal states (Länder) that make up Germany (http://www.bund.de/EN/Germany-At-A-Glance/The-16-Federal-States/16-federal-States_node.html) are responsible for registration law.
The local registration office (see paragraph 43.1.46) passes registration details on to the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Zentrales Fahrzeugregister des Kraftfahrt-Bundesamtes) (www.kba.de) which maintains a central register of vehicles.
Like the equivalent register maintained by the DVLA in the UK, the register contains the details of the vehicle, and records the name and address of the user (who is not necessarily the owner).
Generally speaking, where a motor vehicle is subject to finance in Germany it may be dealt with in line with the guidance offered in Part 2 of Chapter 31.2 as, under the provisions of the EC Regulation [note 1] English law will prevail as regards the position of the vehicle as an asset, but German law will prevail as regards their rights under the finance agreement. Where, for example, the finance company retains title to the vehicle, any power of sale that they have over the vehicle will be unaffected by the making of the bankruptcy order or the appointment of the trustee [note 2] [note 3].
Where a motor vehicle is subject to finance in Germany, the finance company will normally hold the registration document (see paragraph 43.1.46) as security for the debt. The vehicle cannot be sold without the registration document.
It should not be necessary to disclaim a motor vehicle in Germany as, generally, they may be dealt with as assets or treated as exempt property, as appropriate.
There are, limited, circumstances where a disclaimer would be the appropriate course of action (for example, where the vehicle was of no value to the estate, or where it is on inaccessible private land) (see paragraph 31.2.66).
Where a disclaimer is issued in respect of a motor vehicle in Germany, notice of the disclaimer should be served on the Federal Motor Transport Authority (see paragraph 43.1.47) and the owner of any land on which the vehicle is situated.
Technical Section are in the process of sourcing a list of agents in Germany who would be able, and willing, to act for the official receiver in the realisation of assets situated in Germany. The information will appear here as soon as it is obtained.