Münster Higher Administrative Court: NRW loses appeal to Corona aid

Higher Administrative Court of Munster

Status: 03/17/2023 10:15 p.m

The Higher Administrative Court today ruled in three test cases on Corona aid for small businesses. The country wanted money back from many – but has now lost the appeal.

Von Philip Raillon

Hundreds of small business owners and the self-employed have this Friday Münster looked: The Higher Administrative Court (OVG) negotiated the Corona emergency aid. “This is an important judgment,” said Reiner Hermann, spokesman for the NRW emergency aid interest group. Many people nationwide were waiting for this. Now the verdict is here: The court said that the recovery of immediate Corona aid for self-employed people in North Rhine-Westphalia was illegal.

The reasoning of the OVG: The state had already set certain conditions for the payment. “The state then had to adhere to these guidelines when it later settled and reclaimed them,” said court spokeswoman Gudrun Dahme.

But the country did not do that. It had adjusted the conditions for its final accounts. That was illegal. Therefore, the highest administrative court of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia upheld the plaintiffs in the three test cases.

Nevertheless, for the plaintiffs it is only a victory with drawbacks. They had argued that the Corona aid – 9,000 euros each in the three procedures – had also been paid to them for lost sales. So they wanted to keep the money when they had less income. And this regardless of whether they had also saved expenses during the time, for example for the fuel for trips to the client.

The OVG did not follow this on Friday. In most cases, the aid was only paid out from the outset for the real loss in a financial emergency – at least according to the funding conditions that the state had set itself when it was paid out.

However, according to the Senate, it was difficult to read this from the notifications. For recipients, it was “really not that easy” to find out what the specifications should be, according to court spokeswoman Dahme. “And then there were hints on the internet pages that didn’t quite fit either.”

In general, there was a lot of criticism from the court: the state had granted voluntary benefits here. Technically, however, they have obviously been poorly implemented. It would have made sense if the country had had a linguist look over the notice again before it was sent out more than 400,000 times, the presiding judge said literally.

Overall, the plaintiffs were therefore quite satisfied after the judgment. Reiner Hermann from the interest group of those affected is now hoping for positive judgments in the other lawsuits. “They’ve already had the riot act read,” he said.

For the remaining 2,000 or so plaintiffs, the state must now set up a new billing procedure, according to Hermann.

However, the judgment has no effect on the many people affected who have not complained about their final accounts. The country could also recalculate these around 220,000 cases in total – and possibly at the expense of those affected. So far, however, it has been said that the state government does not intend to do so.

Although the judgment is only groundbreaking for the cases in North Rhine-Westphalia, it should also be an important pointer for the entire federal territory. And the judgment should also be very relevant for the future handling of crises and aid programs.

The Higher Administrative Court did not allow an appeal against the verdict.

We will also report on this topic on March 17th, 2023 in the radio news, including on WDR5.

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