DLA Piper obtains a landmark decision against fee charging for commercial gaming brokerage licences

DLA Piper has successfully obtained a landmark decision against the German state of Lower Saxony before the Administrative Court of Berlin. The court stated that the legal basis for the charging of fees for commercial gaming brokerage licences in Germany is ineffective (judgement of 26 June 2019, case number VG 4 K 207.17).

The judges allowed the appeal on the grounds of fundamental importance of the case.

Starting point of the dispute is a fee notice from the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for granting of commercial gaming brokerage licences in a combined procedure for all federal states. The relevant tariff in Lower Saxony’s law provides a fee scale of 1,000 to 100,000 EUR per federal state.

The judges followed the plaintiff’s argument that the relevant tariff infringes the requirement of definiteness in the rule of law. They stressed that the requirement of definiteness must guarantee a certain degree of predictability. The possibility of an arbitrary, non-verifiable regulation must be excluded. The relevant tariff fails to meet these requirements, the judges said. There was neither a conceivable explanation why the tariff allowed up to 100,000 EUR of fees per federal state nor was it clear how to set the fee within the wide spread scale. Additionally, it was held against the legislator that a brokerage licence must be issued for a limited period of time whereas the tariff remains unchanged regardless of the term of the licence.

The fee notice was consequently annulled by the court. This makes the decision important to the relevant public.