Some general points:
The reports of the decisions of German law courts are different from both the French and the common law (Anglo-American) style.
Compared with the French style, they can contain more detail, more evidence of the argument - not just the legislation, but what academic writing or court cases were used as guidance.
Compared with the Anglo-American tradition, they are impersonal and more formally structured.: it is the decision of the court that is recorded, not the arguments of individual judges. Only the Federal Constitutional Court records dissenting judgments.
Please read the article by Markesinis "Judicial style and judicial reasoning in England and Germany" (2000) 59(2) Cambridge Law Journal 294. Cw UK 300 C20.
As Germany belongs to the civil law tradition, case law is not considered a formal source of law: stare decisis is the exception (eg in the case of the decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court) rather than the norm.
German judges are not bound by precedent (Präjudizien), but, in pursuit of consistency, they are likely to consider previous decisions of the higher court(s).
German judges only interpret & apply the existing law to the facts before them.
Finding the decisions of German courts
Holders of an Oxford SSO have access to BeckOnline.
It is now normal for the official websites of German courts to offer searchable databases of their decisions - free, at least for non-commercial use. These collections are likely to be of 21st century decisions.
It will be harder to find translations of decisions into English. These web sites have small collections of "leading" cases
|BVerfGE||Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts||German 100 E90|
|BAGE||Entscheidungen des Bundesarbeitsgerichts||German 100 E70|
|BVerwGE||Entscheidungen des Bundesverwaltungsgerichts||German 100 E100|
|BSGE||Entscheidungen des Bundessozialgerichts||German 100 E80|
|BGHZ||Entscheidungen des Bundesgerichtshofes in Zivilsachen||German 100 E61d|
|BGHSt||Entscheidungen des Bundesgerichtshofes in Strafsachen||German 100 E61g|
The law journal below publishes civil/commercial law decisions. It can be the quickest way to find recent decisions in print.
NJW-RR NJW-Rechtsprechungs-Report, Zivilrecht German 300 N25