German insolvency law is governed by a comprehensive Insolvency Code which entered into force on January 1, 1999 and has been amended from time to time, the last major reform being the Act for the Further Facilitation of the Restructuring of Companies (ESUG) which largely came into force as of 1 March 2012. Further modifications were implemented in a second reform which came into force on 1 July 2014. On 5 April 2017, the latest amendments regarding challenge rights under the Insolvency Code came into effect. There is only one primary uniform insolvency procedure which applies to both individuals and companies. In the following, we focus on companies. Insolvency proceedings can be initiated against any natural or legal person, excluding certain legal persons organized under public law, such as the German Federation or the German states. Proceedings can in principle also be initiated against legal entities which are not legal persons, such as private partnerships (Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts).

Special rules apply in case of the insolvency of specifically regulated entities, e.g. banks (in particular, Sections 46 to 47 German Banking Act – Kreditwesengesetz, KWG), payment institutes (Section 16 Payment Services Supervision Act – Zahlungsdiensteaufsichtsgesetz, ZAG) or insurance companies (Section 88 German Insurance Supervision Act – Versicherungsaufsichtsgesetz, VAG).

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