I would like to start my presentation with a personal experience made with German state courts. It shows how formalism can lead to extensive proceedings and how a formalistic system may be abused. Jean-Pierre M. was a young successful Swiss entrepreneur when he sold his electronics device company for 4 million Swiss Francs shortly after his 30th birthday. With this early earned fortune, he fulfilled his personal dream. He had a 76-foot luxury sailing catamaran built for him, his family and ten paying passengers. For the next eight years, Jean-Pierre M. spent a life as full-time skipper and scuba diving instructor in the Caribbean Sea. He had no land-based residence anymore and was fully dependent on his new tourist business. His dream ship, SS Extasi, was now home as well as the basis of his living.
On November 1, 1998, at the fall of the night, about 300 nautical miles from St. Thomas, the dream came to an abrupt end: SS Extasi was destroyed by a heavy board fire. The accident started slowly with unspecified smoke in the deep body of the ship. But then, the fire developed so aggressively that the skipper (who was alone aboard) could not even emit an SOS emergency signal, nor could he rescue anything of his personal belongings. After a first explosion, M. had to jump overboard to save his naked life. Sitting in his life raft, M. suddenly realized that nobody knew of his accident, that he was drifting in the middle of the ocean, and that he had no appreciable water and food reserves to reach land. M. was prepared to die when he saw his ship sink in about one hour’s time, after a spectacular series of explosions in the night sky caused by bursting scuba tanks.