Membership fee

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The membership fee is a contribution in money , of the acquisition or maintenance of membership in a public corporation , a party , an association or a club used.


The membership fee is charged members due to a public statute (corporations, associations), private law statutes (parties, associations) or other social contract . The membership fee is used to self-finance these types of companies ( contribution -financed companies ). In addition to other benefits such as donations or subsidies , the membership fee is usually the main source of income. In the case of corporations in particular, the contribution is levied in the form of an allocation . The member can only be released from the obligation to pay a membership fee under special circumstances, which are also to be regulated in the statutes. This includes, for example, being awarded honorary membership .


Membership, i.e. the legal relationship of the members to an association of persons , is a prerequisite for the obligation to contribute . This legal relationship arises through a (written) declaration of membership and approval of membership by the association of persons (cf. § 15 GenG ). It is a recording contract. It is associated with certain rights , for example participation in activities specially planned for members , but also with obligations , such as the payment of fixed membership fees.

Memberships exist primarily in the following areas:

Organically organized organizations charge levies , the other organizations stipulate a contribution obligation in their statutes or are free of charge (board members). In private-law companies there are no members, but partners or shareholders .

Legal issues

Corporations under public law always have compulsory members with an accessory contribution obligation. For example, form the notaries , in a Oberlandesgerichtsbezirk are ordered according to § 65 , para. 1 BNotO a notary chamber (, a public body § 66 1 Abs. BNotO). In accordance with Section 73 (1) BNotO, it collects contributions from the notaries, insofar as this is necessary to fulfill their tasks. The legal question arose as to whether compulsory contributions of this kind are constitutional.

This has been clarified in the case of the chambers of industry and commerce . According to Section 2 (1) IHKG, they include natural persons , trading companies , other majorities and legal entities under private and public law who maintain an operating facility in the area of ​​the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (chamber members) and are subject to trade tax . Legal basis for the collection of membership fees is § 3 , para. 3 IHKG in connection with the under § 3. 2, sentence 1 IHKG to be adopted contribution order . It is resolved by the general assembly in accordance with Section 4 (1) sentence 2 No. 2 IHKG and requires approval by the supervisory authority in accordance with Section 11 (2) No. 3 IHKG. A limited liability company subject to trade tax had defended itself against its obligation to contribute because it saw this as a violation of the freedom protected under Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law and of the principle of democracy ( Article 20, Paragraph 1 and 2 of the Basic Law). The Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) considers the obligation to contribute according to § 3 Paragraph 2 and 3 IHKG to be justified because the underlying compulsory membership in the chambers of industry and commerce according to § 2 Paragraph 1 IHKG is based on a legitimate purpose. The chambers perform “legitimate public functions ”; the encroachments on the freedom of action of traders associated with the obligation to pay contributions according to § 3 Paragraphs 2 and 3 IHKG as well as membership in the Chamber of Industry and Commerce according to § 2 Paragraph 1 IHKG are proportionate. The judgment of the BVerfG applies accordingly to all other corporations under public law.

Web links

Wiktionary: membership fee  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Köbler , Etymological Legal Dictionary , 1995, p. 271
  2. BGHZ 101, 193
  3. Gunther Schwerdtfeger, Individual and Collective Freedom of Coalition , 1981, p. 54
  4. Thorsten Franz, Introduction to Administrative Science , 2013, p. 47
  5. Most hunting license holders are now organized in the German Hunting Association (DJV). The Reichsjagdgesetz (Reichsjagdgesetz) stipulated in section 56 that the hunting license holders were united in the Reichsbund "Deutsche Jägerschaft".
  6. BVerfGE 97, 271 , 286
  7. Alexander Weichbrodt, Das Semesterticket , 2001, p. 64
  8. BVerfG, decision of July 12, 2017, Az .: 1 BvR 2222/12 and 1 BvR 1106/13 = BVerfG NJW 2017, 2744