Establishing and operating a business in a foreign country is a unique challenge. Beyond the language barrier, American companies and investors face a widely unknown legal, regulatory, and cultural environment in Germany.
Holger Siegwart, Esq. is a native of Germany. He has practiced law in Germany for many years before he was also admitted as an attorney in the United States. During that time he advised and represented many clients in the area of German corporate and business law, including a number of foreign based investors and companies doing business in Germany.
With this background SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW is uniquely qualified to assist US-based companies and investors with their legal and business needs in Germany.
Business Formation in Germany: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW advises clients on business formation, entity creation, and related issues in Germany.
Select a Form of Ownership: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW helps you to select the proper structure for your business depending on both, your current situation and your expectations and goals in the future. Sole proprietorships, partnerships (limited and unlimited), limited liability companies, and corporations are the most common structures. Please note that formation and operation of business entities in Germany is subject to different rules and requirements. It is, in general, more complicated.
Corporations in Germany: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW prepares all documents necessary to incorporate and operate a business in Germany, including articles of incorporation and by-laws. Incorporating a business in Germany is more burdensome than in the US and, in many instances, the organization of an LLC may be a better choice.
LLCs in Germany: Unlike their counterpart in the US, limited liablity companies have a long-standing history in Germany and are governed by a well-established body of statutes and court decisions. We advise clients on the formation of LLCs in Germany and provide articles of organization, operating agreements, and other legal documents necessary to organize and operate an LLC in Germany. Despite formal and capital requirements for their formation, German LLCs offer a high degree of flexibility and are very popular. A limited liability company can be used as a general partner in a limited partnership under German law.
Partnerships in Germany: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW provides partnership agreements and drafts other documents necessary to establish and operate a general partnership or limited partnership in Germany. Partnerships are usually easier to form and operate than LLCs and corporations under German law. However, they offer less or no protection against personal liability. A limited liability company can be used a a general partner in a limited partnership under German law.
General Counsel for German Businesses and Affiliates: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW can serve as general counsel and take care of the legal needs arising out of the day-to-day operation of your business entity in Germany on an as needed basis. This solution allows small and mid-sized companies, who do not have in-house counsel in Germany, to avoid or evaluate risks at an early stage and enables you to plan rather than react. You can take advantage of our unique experience with the legal systems of both countries and our bilingual support. We are located in the United States. We are in or close to your time zone. You can communicate with us during regular business hours.
Attractive Fees: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW is available as general counsel for smaller and mid-sized companies in Germany. This service is offered at reduced hourly rates. Flat rates are available, too. A very effective cost structure enables us to operate at a lower cost than big firms. We pass that advantage on to our clients.
We do not charge German sales tax which saves you an additional 19%.
We are located in the US. Your bills will not be inflated by the current weakness of the US Dollar.
- Contract Writing and Business Agreements: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW provides contracts under German law and cross-boarder agreements involving German law, or German parties. We draft a wide variety of business and commercial agreements, agreements related to business formation and operation in Germany, purchase and sales agreements, contracts for services and employment, contracts regarding real property in Germany, arbitration clauses, choice of law and venue clauses, etc. We also provide translations and bilingual contracts.
- Financing a Business in Germany: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW represents clients in negotiations with banks and investors in Germany. Our ability to communicate with them in their native language and our experience with their legal and cultural environment is a valuable asset at the negotiation table.
- Corporate Filings in Germany: Our office can take care of your filings related to establishing and operating a business in Germany. Please note that filing requirements in Germany are different. They are often difficult to understand and comply with. Filing requirements are strictly enforced and mistakes can cause severe and sometimes irreversible damage.
- Officers’ and Directors’ Liability in Germany: Business activities in Germany may subject officers and directors to personal liability under German law. We counsel you on how to avoid these situations and represent you if claims are made against you arising out of your service as an officer or director of a business entitiy in Germany.
- Unfair Competition and Unfair Business Practices: Germany is a wealthy country and a very attractive market of which many competitors would like to have a lucrative share. In their efforts and aspirations they may overstep their boundaries, accidentally or intentionally. It is critical to take immediate action to preserve your rights and avoid irreversible damage. Germany has a well-developed body of law regulating unfair competition and unfair business practices and provides participants in the marketplace with the tools necessary to enforce it.
- Insurance Coverage in Germany: There is a strong need to protect your investment abroad and, at the same time, you must shield yourself and your assets against liability arising from your business activities abroad. We can review your existing insurance coverage in Germany and advice you on coverage needs for existing and new businesses. We can help you establish sufficient insurance coverage, if necessary (commission free).
- Cancellation and Liquidation: We assist clients with the cancellation and liquidation of business entities in Germany. Formal requirements and procedures must be strictly followed. Failure to comply may result in liability of officers, directors, and members/shareholders.
- Bankruptcy in Germany: We advise clients on avoiding and filing for bankruptcy in Germany. You must be aware of the requirements to meet and steps to take timely in order to avoid personal liability, including criminal liabilty, of officers and directors arising from corporate bankruptcies in Germany.
- Fraudulent Transactions: Fraudulent transfers which affect a creditors recovery may be set aside whether or not the debtor files for bankruptcy. Timelines and requirements differ from US law.
- Visa: Early planning and preparation is essential if you want to make sure your non EU key personnel is eligible to work and conduct business in Germany. Access to the German Labor market is restricted for non EU citizens. Business immigration and related disputes with German authorities can be challenging.
- Export Control: Export control considerations must play an important role in your early planning stage. Not only may export control affect your products and services, it also has an impact on the selection of your employees. Non-compliance will be sanctioned and may trigger severe penalties and even force you out of business.
- Experts: We cooperate with experts who are familiar with both your industry and the respective German market. We are able to communicate with them in their native language and are familiar with the environment they work in.
- Taxes – German „IRS“: German tax laws and procedures are complicated. German authorities in general, and the German IRS in particular, are not easy to deal with. Most government employees have life tenure, six weeks of vacation, many weeks of paid sick time, etc. They have never worked in the private, competitive economy. Expect to be treated accordingly. We know how to deal with these particular circumstances and attitudes. We select experienced CPAs who are familiar with your industries and negotiate favorable rates for you.
- Payroll taxes in Germany: Timely payment of payroll taxes, social security charges, health insurance contributions etc. is critical in Germany. Non-compliance jeopardizes the existence of your business and may subject officers and directors to personal liability, including criminal liability. We select competent payroll service for our clients in Germany.