Applying for a licence to render legal services out of court
If you want to render legal services out of court, you must be registered in the legal services register.
You can register for:
- Debt collection services
The debt collection industry controls the collection of third-party receivables or receivables assigned for collection purposes and thus helps improve your client’s liquidity.
- Pension advice on
- statutory pension and accident insurance schemes,
- social compensation law
- other social security laws and laws on severely handicapped persons insofar as these relate to statutory pensions
- laws on company and trade association provisions
- Legal services under foreign law.
Legal services rendered as a complementary service together with another activity (e.g. collection of customer receivables that were assigned to a workshop in lieu of performance) do not require a licence. Only lawyers may represent clients in court. There are no statutory regulations governing legal services rendered to family and friends for free.
Other than those rendered for family, neighbours or friends, free legal services may only be provided
- under the guidance of a legally qualified person or
- if you are legally qualified yourself.
The same applies to charitable organisations and institutes that render legal services.
Tip: If you already have a licence to handle third party legal matters in accordance with the former Legal Services Act (Rechtsberatungsgesetz - RBerG), you can have yourself registered as a so-called "old permit holder".
You must meet the following requirements in order to register:
- You are personally reliable and suited to this work. You are for example not deemed personally suitable if there is a fundamental collision of interests. The fact that you practise another profession does not constitute grounds for a collision of interests. The activity in question must be generally incompatible with the legal service you wish to provide. This might for example be the case if you are running a debt collection company and a financing company at the same time. The criteria for establishing your reliability are your life to date, particularly if you committed any criminal offences, and your financial circumstances. As a rule, registration will be refused on the grounds of insufficient personal reliability if
- you have been legally convicted of a crime or an offence relating to your profession within the last three years,
- your finances are not in order,
- if a registration as per the Legal Services Act has been revoked or your licence for admission to the bar has been revoked, retracted or denied or you have been excluded from the bar within the last three years.
You must be particularly competent both theoretically and practically in the areas of the law which are significant for the activities for which you are applying.
- If you wish to provide debt collection services, you must have a sound theoretical knowledge of
- civil law,
- commercial, securities and corporate law,
- the law on civil procedures including compulsory enforcement and insolvency law, and
- the law of costs
- If you wish to offer pension consulting services, you must have a sound theoretical knowledge of
- the law on statutory pension and accident insurance schemes and all other legal areas described in § 10 par. 1 clause 1 no. 2 RDG,
- the structure, organisation and structural principles of the social security system
- the common legal principles that apply to all areas of social benefits including the social administrative procedure and the social judicial procedure
- If you wish to render legal services under foreign law, you must have a sound theoretical knowledge of the foreign or of parts of the foreign law for which you are applying to register.
You are usually deemed to have sufficient practical knowledge if you
- spent a minimum of two years working under supervision or
- obtained a professional qualification in the area in which you wish to render legal services.
Your practical experience must include the independent handling of debt collection and enforcement cases for which you had to prepare correspondence and written submissions with substantive presentations of the claims and responses to objections. If you wish to provide debt collection services, you could for example have obtained practical experience as
- a lawyer’s senior clerk,
- a clerk in a debt collection company,
- a self-employed worker in the legal or debt collection department of a large company or a bank/savings bank.
You can provide evidence of this experience.
You have taken out professional indemnity insurance with a minimum sum insured of 250,000 euros per claim in compliance with the terms of the Legal Services Act.
You must submit your application for registration to the competent authority in writing. You must sign it by hand or attach an authenticated electronic signature.
The competent authority will examine your application and register you if the statutory requirements are met. Your details will then be published in the legal services register.
You can use the search function of the legal services register to check whether you have been registered.
Licences to handle third-party legal matters granted in accordance with the former Legal Services Act (old licences) expired as of 1 January 2009 unless you lodged an “Application to register in accordance with the Legal Services Act for old licence holders” by no later than 31 December 2008.
N.B. If you did not lodge the application until on or after 1 January 2009, you are no longer authorised to perform legal services or to use the title of “legal adviser” (Rechtsbeistand) and must apply for registration.
You must submit the following together with your application:
- completed application form
- a summary of your professional training and activities to date
- as evidence of personal reliability:
- if residing in Germany:
- if residing abroad: documents from your country of residence that testify to your personal reliability.
The competent authority may request additional documents in order to verify your personal reliability.
- evidence that your finances are in good order:
- if residing in Germany, usually:
- excerpt from the record of debtors (Schuldnerverzeichnis)
- confirmation from the insolvency court
- confirmation from the tax office for tax-related affairs
- if residing abroad: documents from your country of residence testifying that your financial circumstances are sound
- if residing in Germany, usually:
- declaration as to whether any registration or a licence for admission to the bar has been denied, retracted or revoked or you have been expelled from the bar within the last three years, with a copy of the notification if applicable
- documents testifying to your theoretical and practical knowledge:
- evidence that you are covered by professional indemnity insurance
You must prove your theoretical knowledge by presenting proficiency certificates, usually from successfully completed courses in the relevant topic. These courses, course providers and certificates must satisfy certain requirements. Evidence of practical expertise usually takes the form of references and other certification relating to the work you have carried out to date.
- Registration (including the specification of a qualified person in the case of legal entities or companies without legal personality): EUR 150.00
- Revocation or retraction of your registration: EUR 75.00
The competent authority will make a decision on your application within three months.
You will find further information on the website of the international services register.
Holders of licences to handle third-party legal matters granted in accordance with the former Legal Services Act (old licence holders) may continue rendering their services provided they are adequately covered by professional indemnity insurance and present their licence document when they register.
N.B. Official licences to handle third-party legal matters held by persons who are not members of a bar association expired on 1 January 2009.
Anyone settled in the European Economic Area (EEA) in order to practise a profession that involves the rendering of legal services may practise this profession in Germany on a temporary and occasional basis with the same powers as persons registered as per the RDG (temporary legal service) provided he/she satisfies certain conditions.
Note: You must notify the competent authority immediately of any changes that may affect your registration or the content of the legal services register.
- § 2 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Begriff der Rechtsdienstleistung)
- § 5 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Rechtsdienstleistungen im Zusammenhang mit einer anderen Tätigkeit)
- § 6 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Unentgeltliche Rechtsdienstleistungen)
- § 10 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Rechtsdienstleistungen aufgrund besonderer Sachkunde)
- § 11 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Besondere Sachkunde, Berufsbezeichnungen)
- § 12 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Registrierungsvoraussetzungen)
- § 13 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Registrierungsverfahren)
- § 14 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Widerruf der Registrierung)
- § 15 Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG) (Vorübergehende Rechtsdienstleistungen)
- § 1 Einführungsgesetz zum Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDGEG) (Erlaubnisinhaber nach dem Rechtsberatungsgesetz)
- Rechtsdienstleistungsverordnung (RDV) (Einzelheiten zu den Registrierungsvoraussetzungen und dem Registrierungsverfahren)
- Gebührenverzeichnis zur Justizverwaltungskostenordnung
- Rechtsdienstleistungsregister - Eintragung Um außergerichtliche Rechtsdienstleistungen gegen Entgelt erbringen zu dürfen, müssen Sie im Rechtsdienstleistungsregister registriert sein.
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Justizministerium released it on 20.02.2015. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.