Norm addressee

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As a norm addressee is referred to in the Law an entity , which by legal standards is addressed.


Legal subjects as bearers of rights and obligations are natural persons , legal persons or associations of persons . The legal norms mainly include laws , ordinances or decrees . These legal norms must always make it clear who is to be affected by a statutory offense and what legal consequences this has for him. The question of “who” relates to the norm addressee for whom a legal norm should apply. The indefinite pronoun “who” is always used in laws to cover everyone. If only certain norm addressees are to be addressed, the legal norm must define them precisely for the purpose of the law .


The legal norms either cover all legal subjects without exception or are aimed at a limited , precisely described group of addressees.

The BGB is aimed at a large number of different norm addressees. In particular, it concerns consumers ( § 13 BGB), entrepreneurs ( § 14 BGB), tenants ( § 581 BGB), owners ( § 854 BGB), owners ( § 903 BGB) or heirs ( §§ 1924 ff. BGB). In addition, some regulations stipulate the responsibility of the addressee of the norm for the behavior of another legal entity. For example, see § 31 before BGB that the club as a norm addressee for the damage is responsible, to a member of the Board or any other constitutionally called to be representatives of an offense committed in execution of the rightful chores, for damages mandatory action injures a third. After § 278 BGB has debtor a fault of his legal representative and the agents representing the same extent as their own.
  • A more restricted, but still extensive group of people, for example, is covered by Section 1, Paragraph 1 of the German Commercial Code : “A businessman in the sense of this code is anyone who operates a commercial trade .” The provisions of the German Commercial Code therefore only apply to merchants as standard addressees, of whom the legal definition in the second half-sentence follows requires the operation of a trade. Conversely, anyone who does not meet the legal requirements of a businessman is not a standard addressee of the HGB. However, the HGB later makes it clear that not everyone who runs a business is simply a businessman - it depends on the size of the business . Non-merchants are nevertheless subject to the norms to a limited extent when they enter into a contract with a merchant (unilateral commercial transactions according to Section 345 of the German Commercial Code). If the person is a merchant or a trading company , then the applicability of commercial law follows .
  • The group of norm addressees for specific business people is even more limited. Article 383 of the German Commercial Code (HGB) stipulates : "A commission agent is someone who takes on the task of buying or selling goods or securities for the account of someone else (the principal) in his own name." The prerequisite is therefore that someone in the context of a trade has goods / commodities or Buys or sells securities in its own name but on behalf of a third party. If he meets these conditions, he must meet the provisions on commission agents. Exporter ("exporter") according to § 2 AWG "is any natural or legal person or partnership that is the recipient's contractual partner in a third country at the time of export and determines the delivery of goods from within Germany to a third country ..." As an exporter everyone must be treated by the law, the goods from Germany due to a contract to foreign supplies.
  • Individuals are specifically addressed, for example, in the Road Traffic Act (StVO). Paragraph 3 (1) of the StVO reads : "Anyone who drives a vehicle may only drive so fast that the vehicle is constantly controlled." The vehicle driver is the central addressee of the standard to whom the StVO prescribes how he has to drive a vehicle.
  • The group of norm addressees can also increase or decrease, as § 33 WpHG shows: “Who through acquisition , sale or in any other way 3 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent of the voting rights from shares belonging to it in an issuer for which the Federal Republic of Germany is the country of origin, reaches, exceeds or falls below (reporting person), must notify the issuer and at the same time the Federal Agency of this immediately within four trading days at the latest. "
  • Sometimes the addressee of the norm is not simply a specific legal subject, but it still has to meet specific requirements in order to be considered a norm addressee. According to Art. 82 of the EC Treaty , a company (legal entity) must abuse a dominant position in a relevant market and impair trade (elements of the offense) in order to violate European competition rules.

Exclusion of norm addressees

If the wording “does not apply to ...” occurs in legal norms, they want to exclude a certain group of addressees from the legal consequences. Whoever acts without guilt in criminal law can therefore not be punished (“ nulla poena sine culpa ”). In the Criminal Code, incapacity is regulated in Sections 19 and 20 of the Criminal Code. A person is incapable of guilt who is not yet fourteen years old when the offense is committed (Section 19 StGB) or is incapable of understanding the wrongdoing of the offense or is unable to understand the injustice of the offense because of a pathological mental disorder , a profound disturbance of consciousness or because of feeble-mindedness or another serious mental abnormality Insight to act ( § 20 StGB). This incompetence is only assumed in 0.3% of all offenders, reduced culpability ( § 21 StGB) in 2 to 3% of offenders. As standard addressees, these addressees meet the criteria for the offense, but are exempt from punishment due to their inability to act.


The mention of the addressees of the norms is legally mandatory because laws regulate human behavior and therefore must address the issues provided for by the purpose of the law to a clearly definable group of addressees. With the norm addressee, legal norms clearly address those legal subjects who are to be affected by the regulation. As a rule, legal entities recognize their role as addressees of norms and can check whether they control their behavior ( action or omission ) in such a way that they do not collide with these legal norms or to what extent non-compliance with a duty of conduct entails injustice. However, the legislature is due to the principle of equality of . 3 type GG obliged to treat addressees same. The principle of equality is violated if a group of norm addressees is treated differently from other norm addressees, although there are no differences between the two groups of such a type and weight that this justifies the unequal treatment.

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Bülow / Markus Artz, Commercial Law , 2015, p. 23
  2. Rocco Jula, Case Collection on Commercial Law , 2009, p. 5
  3. Konstantin Karyofilis, Medical Journal , 27-28. February 2015, p. 8
  4. BVerfG NJW 2003, 2733