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Germany / Federal Administrative Court / 10 C 24/14

Unknown self-employed auditor v Auditors Chamber
Policy area
Employment and social policy
Deciding body type
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding body
Federal Administrative Court
Decision date
ECLI (European case law identifier)
  • Germany / Federal Administrative Court / 10 C 24/14

    Key facts of the case: 

    The plaintiff, a self-employed auditor (Wirtschaftsprüfer) and lawyer, challenged the decision of the Auditors’ Chamber (Wirtschaftsprüferkammer) which decided that the plans of the plaintiff to become chair of the board of a Swiss company are not compatible with the professional integrity and duties of an auditor: The plaintiff is a registered auditor in several EU Member States and in Switzerland. In October 2013 he informed the chamber about his plans to become chairman of the board of a Swiss company, in which he should have a merely supervising function. The chamber, however, decided that such a chairmanship is a commercial function, violating the professional duties of an auditor laid down in Section 43a (3) of the Auditors Regulation (Wirtschaftsprüferordnung). The chamber therefore decided that the plaintiff must not take over the chairman function while working as auditor. Against this decision the plaintiff lodged a complaint with the competent administrative court, which was dismissed. Againt this this court decision the plaintiff appealed to the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), by arguing that his fundamental human rights are violated, especially his right to engage in work and the freedom to conduct a business. The leapfrog appeal was dismissed as being unfounded. The Federal Administrative Court upheld the first instance’s decision by explaining that the striven chairmanship of the board is subject to the prohibition of commercial activities laid down in Section 43a (3) of the Auditors Regulation.

    Outcome of the case:

    The plaintiff’s leapfrog appeal was not successful. The Federal Administrative Court decided that the Auditors Chamber did not violate the fundamental rights of the plaintiff (besides national law also Articles 15 and 16 of the Charter) by applying Section 43a (3) of the Auditors Regulation. The court argues, that the obligation to respect fundamental rights defined in the context of the European Union is binding upon the member states only in respect of matters covered by EU law. The court rejected the argument of the plaintiff that Directive 2006/43/EC on  statutory  audits  of  annual  accounts  and  consolidated  accounts makes the Charter relevant for his case. The court argued that Directive 2006/43/EC  only determines rules for audits but not for the auditors and does not contain rules concerning the compatibility of commercial activities and auditing. Therefore, EU Member States may create their own rules on this the matter without implementing EU law.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter

    “Contrary to the opinion of the plaintiff, Article 15 (1) and Article 16 CRFEU do not prevent the application of Section 43a (3) No. 1 of the Auditors Regulation. The mentioned fundamental rights are already not applicable under Article 51 (1) Sentence 1 CFREU.  The Charter of Fundamental Rights has to be considered by the Member States only when implementing EU law. Such an implementation can be assumed if a relationship between a national exercise of public powers act and the law of the Union exists, which goes beyond the mere vicinity of the matters in question, or if one of the matters has indirect implications for the other (cf. CJEU, Judgment of 6 March 2014 - C-206/13 [ECLI:EU:C:2014:126], Siragusa - para. 23). In this respect it depends on whether the national legislation aims to implement a provision of EU law or whether it pursues objectives other than those covered by EU law and whether there are EU law provisions being specific on the matter, which is regulated by the national exercise of public powers, or capable of affecting it (cf. CJEU abote cited judgement, para. 25). Such a connection between Section 43a (3) No.1 of the Auditors Regulation and the law of the Union is not given in this case.  Section 43a (3) No.1 of the Auditors Regulation neither represents the implementation of EU law regulation tasks, nor exists EU law which concerns the auditing profession in general.” (para. 26)

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language)

    “Entgegen der Ansicht des Klägers stehen auch Art. 15 Abs. 1, Art. 16 GRC der Anwendung des § 43a Abs. 3 Nr. 1 WPO nicht entgegen. Die genannten Grundrechte sind bereits nicht anwendbar, Art. 51 Abs. 1 Satz 1 GRC. Die Charta der Grundrechte ist von den Mitgliedstaaten nur bei der Durchführung des Unionsrechts zu beachten. Eine solche Durchführung ist anzunehmen, wenn ein Zusammenhang eines nationalen Hoheitsaktes mit dem Unionsrecht besteht, der darüber hinausgeht, dass die fraglichen Sachbereiche benachbart sind, oder wenn der eine von ihnen mittelbare Auswirkungen auf den anderen haben kann (vgl. EuGH, Urteil vom 6. März 2014 - C-206/13 [ECLI:EU:C:2014:126], Siragusa - Rn. 23). Insoweit kommt es darauf an, ob die nationale Regelung die Durchführung einer Bestimmung des Unionsrechts bezweckt oder andere als unter das Unionsrecht fallende Ziele verfolgt und ob es Regelungen des Unionsrechts gibt, die für die durch den nationalen Hoheitsakt geregelte Materie spezifisch sind oder ihn beeinflussen können (vgl. EuGH, a.a.O. Rn. 25). Ein solcher Zusammenhang zwischen § 43a Abs. 3 Nr. 1 WPO und dem Unionsrecht ist vorliegend zu verneinen. Dessen Gestaltungsanspruch beschränkt sich auf die Regelung der Mindestqualitätsanforderungen der Abschlussprüfung. § 43a Abs. 3 Nr. 1 WPO stellt sich mithin weder als Umsetzung von Regelungsaufträgen des Unionsrechts dar, noch gibt es Unionsrecht, welches das Berufsfeld des Wirtschaftsprüfers generell betrifft.” (Rn. 26)