Legal expertise for starting business in Germany

The subject of access to the German market appeared to be particularly interesting for 17 young executives from Russia and Belarus who came to Hamburg for a Manager Training Programme at Akademie International in November 2016. The group was diverse and included experts from various industries such as engineering, services, production and construction.

In order to meet their interest, the MP participants visited the international law firm Wülfing Zeuner Rechel (WZR) and its subsidiary, the management consultancy Germela GmbH in Hamburg on 11 November 2016. This law firm specializes in international company law and commercial and labour law, and has its own offices in 12 cities on three continents. This visit was particularly important for those who aim to start a business undertaking in Germany in the near future.

A large team of specialist lawyers and consultants received the visitors in WZR’s representative, ultra-modern offices in the heart of Hamburg’s Eppendorf district. Britta Struve (lawyer, Head of Russia Desk) and Leila Duisebayeva (Legal Consultant with Germela) reported on issues concerning labour and company law. They are both well-founded experts for the Russian market and speak fluent Russian. As a result, the participants immediately felt right at home with WZR.

Ms. Struve spoke of the special requirements when starting business in Germany, the standard company forms as well as special features of tax and labour law. For example they discussed the differences between an AG (German public limited company) and a GmbH (German limited liability company), and various ways to set up a branch in Germany. In so doing, she advised the MP participants not to underestimate the associated administrative hurdles. In addition, differences in business etiquette between Germany and Russia were discussed.

Ms. Duisebayeva discussed in detail the process of forming a company in Germany, and the associated residence permit considerations, i.e. the possibility of obtaining a residence permit for the company’s owner or employees to be deployed in Germany. In addition, the individual bureaucratic stages in filing an official application and the requirements of a business plan in Germany were discussed. Ms. Duisebayeva went on to explain possible business models for foreign investors using practical examples.

At the following reception, we could clearly sense how many new impulses the extensive and yet pertinent presentations by WZR had provided to the MP participants. As a result, it will hardly come as a surprise when some of the companies soon announce that they will be expanding into Germany.

By Julia Moritz
Akademie International, Hamburg
Leo Wigger
Project Manager with GERMELA GmbH