Legal Matters

You are taking part in the Ende Gelände action. What legal consequences can you expect?

Repression (by the state, police or private companies) is meant to be unpredictable. Nonetheless, we already have some experience with it and can assess some reactions in advance. However, there are no guarantees. One thing is sure either way: together we are building structures of solidarity to support those hit by the impacts of repression – you will not be left alone! There will always be a contact person in charge of legal matters at the camp. We will also offer workshops on this issue. It is impossible to cover everything in advance, so do join the camp. On location we will discuss open questions together. On top of that, we are preparing a detailed leaflet presenting many different options for action and putting things into context for you.

If after the action you are confronted with legal repercussions, get in touch with your affinity group and, if you like, with the person in charge of legal aid at the camp. Together we will find a way to handle the repression and use it to strengthen our movement rather than letting it weaken us! We would like to explicitly alert you to the fact that the ranges of criminal penalties outlined are not set in stone. They provide guidance for all people whom they may concern. It is possible to formally object against court orders; to go to court with the help of lawyers or lay defense counsels (to be defended by someone who is not a legally trained lawyer, by another citizen). We can use the judicial accusations politically and make the absurdity of criminalizing climate activists public. And we can defend ourselves against it – that is, if you want that, too!

From Monday, the 3rd of August 2015 on, you can always reach someone from the legal support team under the following number:
Legal Team: +49 (0)157 82 86 82 73
You can also contact us via this e-mail-address:

More information about legal questions and practical information
can be found on this link to the legal team.

1. Criminal Law

The following criminal offences are particularly relevant:

  • Trespass/unlawful entry: If you enter a building or a private ground (e.g. the opencast mine) “illegally”. If the object is fenced or if there are signs indicating that entry is illegal or if it assumed that you know that the “owner” would not permit entry, then this already applies when entering the building or land. If not, it only comes into effect once you stay on after being requested by the owner (in our case, the RWE group) to leave.
    Penalty range: 10 – 30 daily rates*.
  • Resistance against enforcement officers: This only applies in the case of direct contact with the police – an active (!) act against police officers, a movement of your body directed against the officer. Note: fleeing, passively lingering and disobedience do not constitute resistance!
    Penalty range: 30 – 50 daily rates
  • Coercion: If your action forces another person to undertake or refrain from taking a certain action.. Sit-down protests in front of coal diggers are not usually regarded as coercion. However, chaining yourself to an object or setting up a material blockade may be prosecuted.
    Penalty range: 20 daily rates

These charges are rarely prosecuted in the context of mass actions such as Ende Gelände! In many cases, active anti-repression work can achieve a termination of the proceeding.

*A daily rate denotes a fine corresponding to your income (1 daily rate = what you earn in one day (means-tested fine)). Alternatively, these days can be served in prison. The penalty ranges provided here are values taken from similar actions in previous years.

2. Civil Law

  • Claim for damages: In the run-up to and during the action, RWE and the police will probably try to threaten us with damage claims of a considerable degree. We approach this threat calmly and will not let it irritate or divert us, because we know: we are a diverse alliance capable of making a scandal about such demands publicly. The more people participate in the action and in the protests in the area, the less likely it is – speaking from experience – that our enemies will put their threat into practice after the action. The threat is almost always a lot more frightening than the actual demand later on. And, additionally, this demand is almost always higher than what would legally be permissible. If in the end, a reduced sum for damages is demanded, we will not leave anyone out in the cold.

So even if RWE later claims damages from many of us or from individuals, we are in a good place: we are many, we are united and we can fight well – on a political and judicial level, and using the media.

    Cease-and-desist declaration: RWE asks you to sign a declaration stating that, for example, you will not enter the company grounds any more. In the case of violation, you will be prosecuted. If you do not sign, RWE will sue you – if they win the case, the declaration is valid and you will have to pay the legal costs. This has only happened once in the context of mass actions. Last year (2014), there was no such case.
    Worst case: In case of violation of the declaration a fine will have to be paid, from experience around 1,000 – 10,000 € (if you do not pay, you will have to serve in prison). If there is a court case, this could cost an additional 8000 €.

3. Refusal to provide personal details

If you refuse to provide your personal details, this can be taken as a reason to take you into custody. Custody may not exceed 12 hours (from experience it is usually less). It is possible that you will be identified (via fingerprinting or photos). A fine of around 100 € can be imposed, although it usually does not happen. Advantage: ideally, you are free on the same night and there are no further legal implications. In past years, many people have successfully refused to provide their personal details during actions in the Rhineland. Do no hesitate to get in touch with us on this issue.

4. If you do not have a German passport

What is crucial in this case is your status of residency. Those who possess a permanent residence permit are usually treated equally to German nationals before the law. A revocation of the residence permit only comes into question in the case of serious offences, meaning if the penalty exceeds one year in prison. Tourist visas and other temporary residence permits can be, but do not have to be, revoked.
In the case of a “Duldung” (exceptional leave to remain in the country, temporary or permanent), it can become very complicated. If the “owner” of a “Duldung” commits a criminal act, then, legally, the “Duldung” must be revoked and he/she has to leave the country. On the other hand, no one can be deported, if facing persecution in their home country. Whether this would be the case is usually judged differently by the authorities than by the people concerned.
When Non-Germans refuse to provide their personal details, this is another special case. It would be best to discuss this at the camp!