Fine (administrative law)

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Under fine (also fine ) are understood in administrative law , a monetary payment , which with a slight violation of the legal norms for misdemeanor by authorities is imposed. In criminal law there is the fine imposed by the judging court .


The general term repentance applies to any kind of compensation for the perpetrator for injustice or suffering caused by him . This also includes religious penance and church penance as a turning away from the wrong way of life and turning to God. For the sinner, repentance was the only way to salvation. In Christianity , repentance represents the endeavor to restore a relationship between God and man that has been disturbed by human offenses. Repentance leads through the knowledge of one's own guilt ( Job 42.6  EU ) to the righteous works of new life ( Acts 26, 20  EU ), which include turning away from the previous way of life ( Rom 6,1f  EU ).

The compound fine is intended to indicate the form in which the perpetrator has to atone, namely through a monetary payment. As a result of this, he is supposed to suffer a reduction in assets instead of deprivation of liberty in the event of a prison sentence . The fine is a sanction to punish administrative offenses that are intended to exceed the economic benefit that the perpetrator has gained from the regulatory offense. However, not every fine is preceded by an economic advantage for the perpetrator (for example in the case of a feeding ban for city ​​pigeons ).

In today's law, an illegal and accusable act is punishable either with a fine (administrative law) or with a fine ( criminal law ). To the extent that criminal law stipulates that a fine can also be recognized in favor of the injured party, they ceased to be in force in December 1974 without replacement (Art. 16 EGStGB ). As a result, the fine is now a purely administrative term.


The Acts of the Apostles of Luke in the New Testament already knew repentance as compensation for wrong done : “Therefore repent for this wickedness of yours and ask the Lord whether you may be forgiven [for, i. Ed.] The striving of your heart ”(8.22 EU ). The oldest Roman law knew the payment of money only as a private punishment ( Latin poena privata ), not as a public punishment; In the criminal system of public law, the fine ( Latin multa ) has only gradually been adopted from procedural law. The fine ( Latin poena (pecuniaria) ) was later extended to each punishment. The word came from the Greek "atonement, vengeance" ( Greek ποινή , poinḗ ), from which the torment is derived. In Roman law, all minor and moderate offenses were not threatened with public punishment, but only with private punishment; in classic times there was always a fine that went to the injured party. The Twelve Tables Act recognized retribution with the same evil ( Latin talion ) for serious personal violations , but it was also allowed to be replaced by a freely negotiable penance. For minor violations, the law completely ruled out the Talion and stipulated fixed fines ( Latin poena ).

The German word “Buße” developed from the Middle High German “buoʒe”. With the Teutons and in the early Middle Ages , injuring someone else was followed by a fine or wergeld as compensation from the perpetrator to the victim or his clan, an early form of perpetrator-victim compensation . Wergeld ("Manngeld") should deprive the injured party of his right to revenge (the feud). For a long time, fines and wergeld were paid for by cattle among the Teutons. If the feud was ruled out so that no peace money could be raised, the fine to be paid was not part of the criminal law. The Sachsenspiegel from 1235 differentiated between wergeld and penance.

Medieval prison sentences could sometimes be converted into a corresponding fine out of grace. In May 1461, for example, Moritz Berkamer from Frankfurt was imprisoned for customs fraud in Miltenberg, in addition to the confiscation of his goods. The Electoral Saxon constitutions from 1572 introduced the “fine” to be determined by the judge. From August 1637, according to the Codex Augusteus, an offended person could choose between the action for revocation of the insult and the action for a fine. Just insults as insults or slanders were the legal basis for fines, such as it looked in February 1870 by the North German Confederation from the criminal bill adopted.

The penal code (StGB), which came into force in January 1872 , provided that a fine could be imposed in addition to a penalty . This only applied to defamation or defamation (§ 188 StGB old version ) and also for bodily harm (§ 231 StGB old version). These penalties were not considered to be punishments, but were intended to satisfy the victim. In practice, these regulations had not acquired any significant importance. The legislature also did not consider it advisable to revitalize the institute of penance in the future by making a clear distinction between penance as a gratuitous performance on the one hand and compensation for pain and suffering as compensation for non-material damage (while removing the satisfaction aspect) on the other hand, and stating the penance as Satisfaction is assigned to the criminal judge , but the determination of the other non-pecuniary damage is assigned to the civil judge . These provisions on the fine in favor of the injured party (§§ 188, 231 StGB old version) were deleted in December 1974 without replacement.

Which came in March 1952 in force Code of Administrative Offenses (Administrative Offenses Act) introduced the fine as a new type of administrative penalty , which by administrative authorities may be imposed. Administrative offenses are therefore all actions threatened with fines . Actions threatened with fines are hardly included in the OWiG itself (from Section 111 OWiG), but mostly in special laws with separate regulations on fines. For example, anyone who disregards the regulations on trades requiring a license according to Section 144 GewO is acting improperly . In this form, most areas of law contain specific regulations on fines for administrative offenses committed ( e.g. shop closing according to § 24 LadSchlG ; animal welfare according to § 18 TierSchG ; environmental law with § 62 BImSchG or § 26 ChemG or § 103 WHG ; traffic law according to § 24 StVG ).

Legal issues

Pursuant to Section 17 (2) OWiG, fines are imposed for unlawful acts committed negligently or with willful intent . This provision specifies the maximum amount for negligence with half of the intended maximum amount for intent. A justifying state of emergency ( Section 16 OWiG) or self-defense ( Section 15 OWiG) excludes the imposition of a fine. If an act is a criminal offense and an administrative offense at the same time, only the criminal law applies ( Section 21 OWiG). If deputies or administrators of legal persons or associations of persons commit administrative offenses through the obligations that affect the legal person or association of persons, a fine can be imposed on them ( Section 30 OWiG). Affected persons are given access to files ( Section 49 OWiG). The police are also allowed to investigate administrative offenses in accordance with Section 53 of the OWiG. The caution money according to § 56 OWiG a minor fine of between 5 € and 55 €. The traffic fines (“Knöllchen”) for road traffic are usually also in this area . The fine is levied by the fine department of the competent authority as part of the fine procedure by means of a fine notice ( § 65 OWiG), which is an administrative act . According to Section 37 (6) VwVfG, this can be contested through legal remedies . The language used in Sections 65 and 66 of the OWiG is clear: it is called a fine , but a fine .

The possible traffic violations are punished by warning fines, fines or a driving ban and are finally listed in a catalog of fines issued in accordance with § 26a StVG , which is binding for administrative authorities and courts.

Amount of the fine

According to Section 17 (1) OWiG, the fine is at least € 5 and, “unless the law stipulates otherwise”, a maximum of € 1000, which is the so-called “regulatory framework”.

A higher maximum fine is often:

However, these maximum fines only apply if the act was committed intentionally ; in the case of negligence , the upper limit is half ( Section 17 (2) OWiG).

Regarding the amount of the fine in individual cases, Section 17 (3) OWiG says: “The basis for the assessment of the fine is the significance of the administrative offense and the allegation made by the perpetrator. The perpetrator's economic circumstances also come into consideration; In the case of minor administrative offenses, however, they are generally not taken into account. ”The fine must therefore be individually assessed for each case and each perpetrator; the same principles apply as for sentencing .

For the assessment of the fines, especially in the case of administrative offenses in road traffic, there is hardly a clear case law , cf. on this, the two comments listed under "Literature", each on § 17 OWiG.

Catalogs of fines

Catalogs of fines contain provisions for assessing the amount of the fine in the event of frequent violations and serve the aim of uniform application of the law. For an abstract standard case (ordinary circumstances, certain allegations of guilt - i.e. intent or negligence -, average economic circumstances) a certain fine or a certain range of fines is set (so-called standard rate ). Catalogs of fines can be issued in the form of legal norms (especially a regulation ), but administrative regulations are more common . Examples:

Fines recipient

The public sector , namely the general treasury, is the recipient of the fines . As a rule, the money goes to the state institution to which the authority that issued the fine notice belongs. If a federal authority has issued the decision, the fine goes to the federal government , in the case of a state authority to the state treasury, etc. Particular mention should be made of the other regional authorities , e.g. B. municipalities, districts, municipal associations, etc. In detail, the regulations are different for each federal state.

Failure to pay a fine

If a fine according to the OWiG is not paid, the administrative authority can apply to the competent court for enforcement detention in accordance with Sections 96 and 97 of the OWiG. Coercive detention can only be ordered once for each forfeited fine and may last a maximum of six weeks. It may not be ordered if the debtor is insolvent. In the event of insolvency, enforcement is suspended.

In the case of adolescents and adolescents , if a fine is not paid, measures can only be imposed by the responsible youth judge. As a substitute measure, work , reparation for the damage to the best of our ability, participation in traffic instruction in the event of traffic offenses or the provision of services in another way can be ordered. If the young person or adolescent does not comply with this order and does not pay the fine, the youth judge can impose youth arrest for up to one week.

A fine is not hereditary . If your debtor dies , the estate may not be enforced ( Section 101 OWiG).

Fine as a disciplinary measure

The legal basis for a fine through works agreement , works regulations or collective bargaining agreement is § 87 Abs. 1 Nr. 1 BetrVG / § 68 Abs. 1 BPersVG , according to which the works council / staff council has a right of co-determination in questions of the order of the company and the behavior of the employees in the company . In the private sector , these can provide that a catalog of increasingly serious disciplinary measures is applied in the event of employee violations of the employment contract , company regulations or work instructions . The following types of penalties are common as operational penalties ( company fines ): admonition , warning , official reprimand , fine or withdrawal of voluntary social benefits. There is also the hearing , instruction , complaint , the temporary exclusion of voluntary benefits ( gratuity ), demotion and, as the most severe form of disciplinary measure, the warning . The amount of the fines is not limited, but usually does not exceed the employee's monthly salary / wage.

In the disciplinary law of civil servants , the fine can be imposed up to the amount of the monthly salary in accordance with Section 7 BDG . This applies accordingly to federal judges in accordance with Section 46 of the German Judges Act . With regard to civil servants and judges in the service of the federal states and other corporations, state laws with the same content apply as far as possible. In the case of soldiers , the comparable measure under Section 24 of the Military Disciplinary Code is referred to as a “disciplinary fine”.


Internationally, the regulations for fines hardly differ from the German ones. As in Germany, road fines play an important role internationally. Abroad, the endemic words for the fine are mostly derived from “stop, pay” ( Latin finare ). This applies in the Netherlands ( Dutch fijn ), France ( French fin ), Spain ( Spanish fino ) or Portugal ( Portuguese fino ). In England it is linguistically difficult to distinguish whether it is a fine or a fine ( english fine , penalty ).

In Switzerland, penalties can be imposed by criminal or administrative authorities as a sanction for violations (of the smallest type of offense) or, based on a legal basis, as a sanction for violating provisions of public law. In contrast to fines , fines are usually assessed without regard to the personal circumstances of the offender. The regulatory fine is a form of fine provided in road traffic law for various minor cases of traffic rule violations. Administrative fines differ from normal criminal penalties in that they are imposed by the police. If they are paid without contradiction, there will be no ordinary criminal proceedings and the perpetrator will not receive an entry in the criminal record .

Within the EU Member States applicable EU framework decision on mutual recognition and enforcement of fines .

The US company Google received the highest fine to date with around 4.3 billion euros in July 2018. The world's largest chip manufacturer Intel received a fine of 1.06 billion euros in May 2009. Intel had to answer for abuse of a dominant market position within the meaning of Art. 102 TFEU because it had initiated illegal payments and discounts in the computer industry.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: penance  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: fine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Erich Göhler, Law on Administrative Offenses , 16th edition, Munich 2012
  • Karlsruhe Commentary, Administrative Offenses Act , 4th edition, Munich 2014
  • Christian Caracas, Responsibility in international corporate structures according to Section 130 OWiG - Using the example of bribery in business transactions with no punishments abroad , Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden 2014, ISBN 978-3-8487-0992-2

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gustav Adolf Benrath, Buße V , in: Gerhard Krause / Gerhard Müller (ed.), Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Volume VII, 1981, pp. 452 f.
  2. Springer Fachmedien (ed.), Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon , 2004, p. 1155 f.
  3. Detlef Liebs, The competition in lawsuits in Roman law , 1972, p. 22
  4. Twelve Tables Law, Table VIII 2
  5. ^ Paul Jörs, Römisches Recht: Römisches Privatrecht , 1949, p. 169
  6. Gerhard Köbler , Etymological Legal Dictionary , 1995, p. 71
  7. Ulrike Köbler, Werden, Wandel und Wesen des German private law vocabulary , 2010, p. 319
  8. Georg Steinhausen , Germanic culture in the primeval times , 1905, p. 45
  9. Ulrike Köbler, Werden, Wandel und Wesen des German private law vocabulary , 2010, p. 189
  10. ^ Andreas Eichstaedt, The customs officer and his way of working in the Middle Ages: a contribution to the history of public service law , 1981, p. 61
  11. Codex Augusteus, T. 1, Col. 1516
  12. Wanja Andreas Welke, Die Repersonalisierung des Rechtsskonflikt , 2008, p. 115
  13. BT-Drs. 7/550 of May 11, 1970, Draft of an Introductory Act to the Criminal Code (EGStGB) , p. 193
  14. Otto Mayer, German Administrative Law , 1962, p. 1007
  15. on constitutionality BVerfG , decision of March 24, 1996 (2 BvR 616/91, 2 BvR 588/92, 2 BvR 1585/93, 2 BvR 1661/93)
  16. See Erich Göhler, Commentary on the OWiG , 16th edition, 2012, paragraph 36 on § 90 OWiG
  17. BT-Drs. 6/3080 of February 8, 1972, Materials for the State of the Union Report 1972 , p. 159
  18. Langenscheidt, Lebende Sprachen , Volumes 29–30, 1984, p. 34
  19. Federal Chancellery - P: SR 741.031 Ordnungsfussenverordnung (OBV) of March 4, 1996. Retrieved on June 2, 2018 .
  20. ala./dpa: "Google has 90 days to change its behavior". In: . July 18, 2018, accessed October 13, 2018 .
  21. Leo Kelion: Google hit with record EU fine over shopping service. In: BBC News. June 27, 2017, accessed June 27, 2017 .
  22. EuZW 2015, 40 EuG , judgment of June 12, 2014, Az .: T-286/09