Legal services

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Legal service is a legal service . In Germany it is regulated according to the Legal Services Act. Legal services play a significant role in Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany is the second largest market for legal services far behind the United States; in 2009, 6.5% of all legal services worldwide were provided in Germany (USA 47.6%).


Legal service is any activity in specific external matters as soon as it requires a legal examination of the individual case ( § 2 RDG). Activities which are exhausted in finding, reading, reproducing and the merely schematic application of legal norms are not, however, legal services. This concerns, for example, the general clarification of legal backgrounds, the assertion of undisputed claims and the participation in a contract conclusion or a contract termination. A legal service is not only available if a comprehensive or particularly in-depth legal examination is required. Even the legal examination of simple facts is a legal service. However, the RDG regulates a number of activities that do not constitute legal services, such as the submission of scientific reports , mediation , the discussion of legal matters of employees with their works and staff councils and the representation of the severely disabled and the presentation of discussions in the media aimed at the general public (Section 2 (3) RDG).

Admissibility of the provision of legal services

The Legal Services Act does not contain a comprehensive legal service authorization , but - unlike the Legal Advice Act - only regulates the authorization to provide legal services outside of court proceedings . Nor does it regulate the power to provide legal services in joint cases . Representation within judicial proceedings, on the other hand, is regulated in the individual procedural rules of the courts, whereby representation by non-lawyers is not approved to the same extent as out-of-court legal services. Comprehensive legal services may only be provided by a lawyer or an equivalent person in accordance with the legal provisions applicable to this group of people. Cases of real application of the law are reserved for the lawyer alone.

The provision of out-of-court legal services is permissible on the one hand if they belong to the occupational and activity field of another activity as ancillary service ( § 5 RDG). Whether an ancillary service is present is to be assessed according to its content, scope and factual connection with the main activity, taking into account the relevant legal knowledge required for the main activity. The law expressly, but not exclusively, lists the execution of wills , house and apartment management and funding advice as permitted ancillary services .

Free out-of-court legal services ( Section 6 RDG) are also permitted, as are out-of-court legal services ( also for a fee) for members of certain associations by the respective association (e.g. legal advice from an automobile association or a trade union ; Section 7 RDG). These legal services may only be provided by a person with permission to provide extrajudicial legal services for a fee or qualification for judicial office or under their supervision. The provision of free legal services for everyone is only permitted within family , neighborly or similarly close personal relationships.

The associations that are allowed to provide legal services for their members according to § 7 RDG are essentially professional and interest groups as well as cooperatives. They can provide free and paid extrajudicial legal services for their members within the scope of their statutory duties if the fulfillment of their statutory duties plays the main role or the fulfillment of the legal service is not of overriding importance. An extension of the purpose of the articles of association to include "general legal services" for its members is not permitted.

Legal services by public and publicly recognized bodies are permitted ( § 8 RDG). Deviating from § 6 RDG, you are also allowed to provide legal services for non-members in return for payment and, in deviation from § 7 RDG. However, remuneration or performance for non-members can again be excluded by statutes or special laws.

For example, consumer advice centers , certain authorities , associations of voluntary welfare and similar institutions may provide out-of-court legal services within their remit and area of ​​responsibility . For example, all social service providers are obliged to advise applicants about their rights under the Social Security Code (free of charge) ( § 14 SGB ​​I ). Advice on social welfare law , also by associations of welfare organizations, results from § 11 SGB ​​XII . Care authorities have to § 4 BtBG legal advisor and representative to advise. Churches and their subdivisions are also allowed to provide charitable advice on social and asylum matters.

Paid and free of charge extrajudicial legal services based on special expertise may, apart from the aforementioned persons and institutions, otherwise only provide registered persons in the field of debt collection services , pension and other utility services or legal services under a foreign law ( Section 10 RDG). Registration takes place with the competent authority and requires a number of additional, non-exhaustive conditions. So z. B. personal suitability , reliability, relevant theoretical and practical expertise and professional liability insurance to a certain extent.

Legal consequences of violations

Certain violations of the Legal Services Act (in particular the provision of legal services without the required registration as well as a violation of an enforceable prohibition order) constitute an administrative offense for which a fine of up to 50,000 euros is threatened ( Section 20 RDG). In contrast to the Legal Advice Act, the Legal Services Act does not initially provide for any fines for free legal services for violations (e.g. against § 6 Paragraph 2 RDG), but according to § 9 Paragraph 1 RDG, the further provision of legal services can be prohibited. The violation of this prohibition then constitutes an administrative offense.

According to Section 20 (1) No. 3 RDG in conjunction with Section 11 (4) RDG, an administrative offense is also the unauthorized use of professional titles that contain the term debt collection , as well as the unauthorized use of the professional title of pension advisor . In contrast, the unauthorized use of the professional title legal counsel in accordance with Section 6 of the Introductory Act to the Legal Services Act does not constitute an administrative offense .

Even if the unauthorized use of professional titles does not constitute an administrative offense according to the RDG, an injunction under competition law according to § 8 UWG may come into consideration.

The Legal Services Act is also a consumer protection act within the meaning of Section 2 Paragraph 2 No. 8 UKlaG .

Legal Services Register

In the legal services register, debt collection companies, pension advisors and service providers are compulsorily registered in a foreign law. Any prohibitions for the provision of legal services - of whatever kind - are also recorded in this register ( Section 16 RDG).

Individual evidence

  1. US International Trade Commission: US Services Trade Report 2011 using figures from Datamonitor 2010
  2. ↑ Ensure quality - open legal advice ( Memento of February 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Heinhold in ZAR 1997, 118 ff