Compensation for architects and builders, German fee rules violate EU law


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President of the Federal Chamber of Engineers is satisfied with the verdict © Arne Immanuel Bänsch / dpa

According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, architects and builders in Germany can hope for damages from the state in certain cases because the German fee rules violate EU law.

Luxembourg – According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, architects and builders in Germany can hope for damages from the state in certain cases because the German fee rules violate EU law. Every EU country must ensure that individuals are compensated for damage caused by violations of European law, the ECJ announced on Tuesday (Case C-261/20). The background is a procedure at the Federal Court of Justice.

The President of the Federal Chamber of Engineers, Heinrich Bökamp, ​​welcomed the verdict: “In terms of planners, but above all in terms of consumer protection, today’s decision by the ECJ is basically a good decision.” The BGH must now make a final judgment on the case.

Tuesday’s judgment concerned the German fee schedule for architects and engineers (HOAI), which, according to a judgment by the ECJ in 2019, violates European law. Minimum and maximum prices for planning work are set out in the schedule of fees. At the time, the EU Commission complained that providers from other EU countries were being prevented from settling in Germany because they could not compete on price.

The BGH then used a procedure to examine the effects of the ECJ ruling on existing planning contracts in which a fee below the minimum rate was agreed – and the planner had subsequently requested the minimum rate. German courts disagreed as to whether the HOAI should continue to be applied. The BGH, which dealt with the procedure as part of a revision, then submitted questions to the ECJ, which led to the current ECJ judgment.

The EU’s highest court also ruled that German courts can continue to apply the fee schedule to disputes between private individuals. Because the EU requirements have no direct effect on private individuals, but are an instruction to a state. “We are very pleased that the ECJ has decided in the interests of our profession,” said Andrea Gebhard, President of the Federal Chamber of Architects. (dpa)


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