Since 2010, a legal policy and legal science discussion has been or is being conducted in professional circles on the legal advisory powers of individual occupational pension schemes. The BRBZ, in particular, has done an enormous amount of educational work in this regard and has worked out that financial service providers and insurance brokers do not have abstract legal advice powers in the aforementioned area of consultancy. Thus, the President of the German Lawyers’ Association, Prof. Dr. Martin Henssler, presented his summarized legal opinion on the described topic at the “2nd BRBZ Legal Advice Congress on Occupational Pensions 2011”, in order to show a final legal clarity for the application of the law. The results of the legal opinion are as follows:
- Insurance brokers and insurance agents do not have the necessary authority to provide legal services in the field of occupational pension schemes.
- In § 34d of the German Trade Regulation Act (GewO), the legislator has not granted insurance brokers a comprehensive (legal), but only an accessory, i.e. bound advisory authority. With the advisory activity of an insurance broker the insurance contract must stand in each case in the foreground. General legal advice as to which type of company pension scheme (e.g. tax law) is to be recommended and how it is to be implemented under individual and collective labor law is not covered by the power of accessoriness.
- Legal advice in the context of company pension schemes is not dependent on a financial service product to be brokered. Rather, both activities must be carried out completely independently of each other.
- Die Informationspflicht gemäß § 61 Absatz 1 Versicherungsvertragsgesetz (VVG) gewährt Versicherungsvermittlern keine eigenständige Rechtsdienstleistungsbefugnis. Die Pflicht zur Information endet dort, wo die Grenze zur erlaubnispflichtigen Rechtsdienstleistung verläuft. Setzt die umfassende Information eine rechtliche Beratung voraus, so muss der Versicherungsvermittler den Kunden nur allgemein über potenzielle Rechte und Risiken aufklären und im Übrigen auf eine fachkundige Beratung durch einen Rechtsanwalt oder Rentenberater verweisen.
- The duty to inform according to § 61 paragraph 1 of the German Insurance Contract Act (VVG) does not grant insurance brokers an independent legal service authority. The duty to inform ends where the borderline to legal services requiring authorization is drawn. If comprehensive information requires legal advice, the insurance intermediary only has to provide the customer with general information about potential rights and risks and otherwise refer the customer to expert advice from a lawyer or pension consultant.
- The professions of insurance broker and insurance agent are incompatible with the profession of pension consultant. A pension advisor, who offers at the same time insurance switching or – agency, is personally unsuitable in the sense § 12 paragraph 1 RDG. To that extent the – of the Federal High Court of Justice (BGH) and of the Federal Constitutional Court (BverfG) in the context of § 7 No. 8, 14 paragraph 2 No. 8 Federal Lawyer order (BRAO) recognized – principles for the incompatibility of the occupation of the lawyer with the occupations of the insurance broker and the insurance representative can be transferred to pension advisors.
- Legal entities and companies without legal personality cannot be registered as pension consulting companies if they also wish to offer insurance mediation or representation.
Der Grundsatz der Verhältnismäßigkeit gebietet es nicht, eine Doppelregistrierung als Rentenberater und Versicherungsmakler durch die Anordnung von Auflagen nach § 10 Absatz 3 RDG zu ermöglichen. Solche Auflagen bieten keinen ausreichenden Schutz der Rechtsuchenden und des Rechtsverkehrs, da sie die Gefahr einer Interessenkollision nicht ausschließen; sie entsprechen zudem nicht dem Charakter des RDG als Verbotsgesetz mit Erlaubnisvorbehalt. Der Umstand, dass die Tätigkeit der Rentenberater nicht berufsrechtlich reguliert ist, rechtfertigt keine andere Beurteilung.
The principle of proportionality does not require a double registration as a pension advisor and insurance broker to be made possible by imposing conditions according to § 10 paragraph 3 RDG. Such conditions do not offer sufficient protection to those seeking legal advice and legal relations, as they do not exclude the danger of a conflict of interests; moreover, they do not correspond to the character of the RDG as a prohibition law with the reservation of permission. The fact that the activity of pension consultants is not regulated by professional law does not justify a different assessment:
Against this background, the BRBZ‘s market-penetrating activities have enabled it to define liability outsourcing consulting standards for occupational pension consulting. According to these standards, a strict distribution of competencies must be maintained. This is achieved by providing the necessary services via a professional network, in which the different tasks are assigned to the different know-how carriers. Legal advice must be provided by an authorized legal advisor, tax advice by the respective tax advisor, and financing and hedging issues should be clarified by an experienced and specialized financial services provider. Only in this way can the comprehensive consumer protection idea of the RDG be sufficiently taken into account.