Constitutional Court Strengthens Self-Administration of Chambers of Commerce and Industry

In its decision of 12 July 2017 (No. 1 BvR 2222/12, 1 BvR 1106/13) the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court has confirmed that the statutory membership in a Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) and the associated contribution obligation are in accordance with the Constitution. Two members of Chambers of Commerce and Industry had challenged court decisions that had dismissed their complaints against contributions towards their chamber. They considered the compulsory legal membership in their Chambers of Commerce and Industry to be unconstitutional and were of the opinion that they therefore would not have to pay the contribution. The Federal Constitutional Court did not follow their reasoning and rejected the constitutional complaints.

The Federal Constitutional Court considers the contribution obligation to be justified on the grounds that the underlying membership in the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Section 2 para. 1 IHKG – Act on the provisional regulation of law of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry) is based on a legitimate purpose. The statutory tasks of the chambers correspond to the typical combination of representation of interests, promotion and administration which is characteristic for economic self-administration. The articulation of interests of the local economy towards politics and administration is better achieved if the companies carry out this task autonomously and are all involved as members. The Federal Constitutional Court also confirms that there is a sufficient level of legitimation for the performance of the legal tasks of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce.

Raue LLP has represented the interests of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry Schwaben and Kassel-Marburg, defendants in the main proceedings. The press release of the Federal Constitutional Court of 2 August 2017 is here.

(3 August 2017)