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Posted by ESA Administrator on 2 October 2015

DSG v ESA
District Court of Bonn, Germany, Thursday 27 August 2015

On August 27 2015 a court hearing took place in Bonn, Germany in respect of the claim made by Deutsche Suzuki Gesellschaft e.V. (DSG) against the European Suzuki Association (ESA).

The ESA was represented by Anke van der Bijl, ESA Deputy Chair and Mr Lothar Schmude, ESA Lawyer.

The main points of the case brought by DSG against ESA were -
• The decision made by ESA in 2011 and 2012 to terminate the DSG’s membership of the ESA was unlawful and therefore invalid
• This decision resulted in financial loss for the DSG for which they claimed €53,755 damages plus the costs of the court hearing
Included in the €53,755 damages claimed was -
 Approximately €20,000 for time spent on the case by the DSG Board Members Wartberg and Gähler
 Approximately €20,000 for expenditure by DSG on legal advice in connection with a number of lawsuits

There was no decision made nor any verdict reached by the Judge in respect of the validity of the claim for damages made by DSG, nor was any verdict reached in respect of all other claims made by DSG in the presentation of their case to the Court.

Rather than passing judgement, the focus of the court hearing was on finding a position where DSG and ESA could agree on a settlement.
The alternative was a very long and costly process involving an enquiry about whether the case came under German jurisdiction and, if so, seeking the advice of experts on English Law to advise a German Court.

The court proposed the following settlement -
• The ESA pays €15,000 Euros to the DSG in full and final settlement
If the ESA pays by 30 September 2015, this amount will be reduced to €10,000
• After payment, the legal dispute is resolved and no more claims are possible in respect of this case
• The costs for the court hearing are split equally between both parties
• The costs for the lawyers are paid by the respective parties
• Both the DSG and the ESA have the right to revoke this agreed settlement by notifying Bonn District Court by Friday 11 September 2015

It is in the best interests of the ESA to bring this conflict to an end now. Prolonging the case with further proceedings would prove to be too high a cost in time, effort and money for the ESA to sustain. The ESA has, therefore, not revoked this settlement and has duly paid the DSG €10,000.

The ESA had to recall a loan of £10,000 from the European Suzuki Teaching Development Trust (ESTDT) in order to pay this settlement and the court costs.

The net result of the actions of DSG is to seriously impact the work of the ESTDT in supporting Suzuki Teacher Training projects within the ESA region.

For the ESA, the conclusions of this settlement are -
• The termination of DSG’s membership of the ESA was and is still valid
• The sole partner organisation of the ESA in Germany is SuzukiMusik Deutschland 2011 e.V.(SMD)
• Suzuki Teacher Training courses and examinations in Germany can only be validated by the ESA if they -
1. are organised through the SMD as a National Teacher Training Course
2. have the permission of the SMD as an Independent Teacher Training Course
• The use of the name ‘Suzuki’ by individuals and entities in Germany other than the SMD and its members is the responsibility of the ISA as the owner of the trademark and not of the ESA.
The ISA is currently taking legal advice on this.
The ESA will continue to follow the ISA’s decision in 2013: “to keep its formal relationship to any individual or organization making such an attempt [to register their own rights to the Suzuki name] to a minimum.

It is hoped that all members of the ESA will keep promoting the Suzuki Method™ throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa and actively connect to the international Suzuki community.

It is the duty of the ESA Board Members to act in the best interest of the association for the wellbeing of the Suzuki movement throughout the region.

The ESA Leadership Team would like to take this opportunity to thank its Board members for their support over the past four years during this conflict with DSG.

Further information -
Summary of Court Hearing DSG v ESA - District Court, Bonn Germany 27 August 2015 (English Translation)
Summary of Court Hearing DSG v ESA - District Court, Bonn Germany 27 August 2015 (German)
Decree of Judge Koranyi, Bonn Regional Court 2 June 2014 (English Translation)
Decree of Judge Koranyi, Bonn Regional Court 2 June 2014 (German)
History DSG ESA 1979-2011 - Board Paper 15 March 2012