Germany is the country of regulations. Many initiatives already come into contact with the bureaucratic love of our country when they are founded. The requirements for the registration of the association at the tax office or the register of associations and the recognition as a non-profit organisation deter many from the final founding act. If you venture this step, you will quickly find yourself in the jungle of association law, data protection law, labour law, tenancy law and the like. How do you keep track of things here? Where to get help?
How do you write a club statute? How do you gain the non-profit status? How do I sign a rental contract for the club rooms? How to handle the member data? Which labour law regulations must be observed for potential employees and management? This is only an excerpt from a catalogue of numerous questions that may arise in the work of an organisation. It is also not good news for clubs that they do not receive legal aid. Not every initiative is fortunate to have a lawyer on board who is familiar with the respective legal subject matter. Therefore, it is helpful to know where to get the relevant information and who to ask for advice.
Pro bono legal advice
The first option is to reach directly out to a lawyer and ask for free legal advice. However, the pro bono activity is not without legal problems: § 49b of the german “Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung” (BRAO) prohibits an attorney from agreeing or demanding lower fees and expenses in advance than provided for in the german “Rechtsanwaltsvergütungsgesetz” (RVG) (a lawyer cannot appeal to § 6 of the Legal Services Act, according to which anyone can provide free legal advice).
Nevertheless, some law firms offer their services for the common good. Large law firms in particular use this to improve their image and increase employee satisfaction. It may therefore be worth asking and agreeing to appear as a supported organisation on the law firm’s website or in the social media.
Free legal services
A lawyer is not always necessary to obtain the necessary information. Under the german “Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz” (RDG), legal services, such as legal advice, can in some cases also be provided by persons other than a lawyer (non-lawyer). According to § 2 Paragraph 1 RDG, a legal service is any activity in concrete foreign matters as soon as it requires a legal examination of the individual case.
In accordance with § 6 Paragraph 1 RDG, free legal services are also permitted if they are provided within family, neighbourly or similarly close personal relationships. Consumer centres and tenant protection associations can also provide free advice.
Free online legal advice for associations
On https://deutsches-ehrenamt.de/service-fuer-vereine/rechtsberatung-online/, the Federal Government provides free online legal advice for clubs.
Depending on the subject, special funding can also be used to obtain professional legal advice.
- On http://www.vereinsknowhow.de/ one finds much information and meeting offers to concrete legal questions.
- Here the Federal Ministry provides a guide to the law of associations.