Deutscher Weinfonds successful with Loschelder Rechtsanwälte
Deutscher Weinfonds, represented by its legal counsel Dr. Nikolai Wolff, has succeeded in defending itself in lawsuits before the Higher Administrative Court against complaints alleging the special levy collected in favour of the Deutscher Weinfonds to be unconstitutional.
The Deutscher Weinfonds is the central marketing institution of the German wine business. Above all, its objectives are to conduct marketing measures in Germany and abroad in order to improve the quality of German wines and to promote sales, to support academic research and to protect German wine designations both in Germany and abroad. The fund finances itself through a statutory levy, raised from German wine businesses.
Following the decisions of the German Federal Constitutional Court in 2009, with which the levies for the general agricultural marketing fund as well as for its executing agencies CMA and ZMP and subsequently also the levies collected for the German fund for the marketing of timber were declared unconstitutional by the court, lawsuits were brought in the area of wine business as well. The Higher Administrative Court of Koblenz (OVG Koblenz), being the first German court of appeals to pass judgement in one of these cases, has now decided one of these lawsuits (OVG Koblenz, Urteil vom 15.09.2010 - 8 A 10246/10.OVG)..
According to the opinion of the court, the levies raised for the fund satisfy the strict constitutional requirements imposed by the judgement of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in 2009. The court believes that the contributories have a special responsibility to finance the activities of the Weinfonds, because – as required from a constitutional point of view – they enjoy a concrete benefit from its work as a group. The Weinfonds had plausibly established the necessity of the legislatively ordered state aid, by referring to the comparatively weak position of the German wine business both in the domestic market as well as in important foreign export markets. In view of the modest amount of the contribution (less the one cent per litre), the limitation of the constitutional freedom of profession that is effected by the fee was considered proportionate.
Due to the fundamental importance of the subject matter, the Higher Administrative Court has allowed the appeal to the German Federal Administrative Court.