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Attempted coercion – No right to ‘safely store’ an improperly parked e-scooter

Parisians recently voted to clear e-scooters from their city’s streets in the future. In Germany, by contrast, such a decision will probably not be made for the time being, especially because, under German criminal law, the removal of undesirable or irritating objects from public grounds on someone’s own initiative would not be tolerated. Against this background, the Local Court (Amtsgericht) in Düsseldorf had to adjudicate on the case of an improperly parked e-scooter.

In the case ruled on by the Düsseldorf judges on 12.1.2023 (case reference: 126 Cs 248/22) the claimant’s garage had been blocked by an e-scooter. He had used a handcart to remove the scooter and put it in his garage; he then contacted the company that rented out the e-scooter and demanded €35 for its return. The company did not however pay the amount that he had demanded, but instead filed a charge of attempted coercion. In addition, he was issued with a warning that he would be fined €3,000 in the event of a repeat offence. The person concerned objected to this way of proceeding. He stated that there had been no coercion, in fact, by charging €35 he had wanted to be reimbursed for the time and effort required to remove the scooter and for writing the letter.

However, the Amtsgericht in Düsseldorf decided that moving the scooter out of the way would have been sufficient. Keeping something and demanding a sum of money for its return constituted attempted coercion. Using threats to compel another person to behave in a specific way would make you guilty of coercion. Attempted coercion occurs when the victim resists involuntarily bending to somebody else’s will and, consequently, does not allow themselves to be compelled to carry out the actions demanded by the perpetrator. The defendant subsequently withdrew his objection and, in addition, has to pay €200 to a charitable institution.

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