The Principle of “Ultima Ratio” And/Or the Principle of Proportionality

Authors

  • Rudolf Wendt Universität des Saarlandes

Keywords:

Ultima ratio principle, principle of proportionality, proportionality of German criminal law provisions, German Federal Constitutional Court, Principio de ultima ratio, principio de proporcionalidad, proporcionalidad de las disposiciones del derecho penal

Abstract

The ultima ratio principle is a highly topical subject. The author describes the common grounds and different perspectives of “ultima ratio” on the one hand and/or the principle of proportionality in German criminal and public law on the other hand. At the same time, the meaning of these principles in the field of criminal law and their practical application by the courts are being analyzed.

After a historical and theoretical analysis of the ultima ratio principle and the principle of proportionality, the main emphasis of this publication lies on studying whether the German Federal Constitutional Court lives up to the self-imposed expectations when applying the ultima ratio principle and/or the proportionality principle on criminal law provisions. The case-law based analysis shows that – with respect to criminal law provisions – these principles are in fact weaker than what their theoretical standing suggests. The author gives various references which reflect the application of the ultima ratio principle and/or the principle of proportionality in the German legal system.

El principio de ultima ratio es un tema de candente actualidad. El autor describe, por un lado, los puntos en común y diferentes perspectivas del "ultima ratio" y/o el principio de proporcionalidad en el derecho penal y público alemán, por otro. Al mismo tiempo, se analizan el significado de estos principios en el ámbito del derecho penal y su aplicación práctica por los tribunales.

Después de realizar un análisis histórico y teórico del principio de ultima ratio y el principio de proporcionalidad, el énfasis principal de este artículo radica en estudiar si el Tribunal Constitucional Federal Alemán está a la altura de las expectativas autoimpuestas al aplicar el principio de ultima ratio y/o el principio de proporcionalidad en las disposiciones de la legislación penal. El análisis de la jurisprudencia muestra que, con respecto a las disposiciones del derecho penal, estos principios son en realidad más débiles que lo que su posición teórica sugiere. El autor da varias referencias que reflejan la aplicación del principio de ultima ratio y/o el principio de proporcionalidad en el sistema jurídico alemán.

DOWNLOAD THIS PAPER FROM SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2200873

Author Biography

Rudolf Wendt, Universität des Saarlandes

The author is Professor at Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany, where he holds the Chair of Constitutional and Administrative Law, Economic, Financial and Tax Law. Professor Wendt is also vice president of the Saarland Constitutional Court. He is co-author of various commentaries, mainly on German and Saarland constitutional law, and author of numerous articles. Universität des Saarlandes. 66123 Saarbrücken (Germany). r.wendt@mx.uni-saarland.de

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Published

03-09-2012

How to Cite

Wendt, R. (2012) “The Principle of ‘Ultima Ratio’ And/Or the Principle of Proportionality”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 3(1), pp. 81–94. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/220 (Accessed: 28 June 2022).

Issue

Section

Part three: Ultima ratio and proportionality