The decisions to recover part of the emergency aid paid out in NRW from the beneficiaries are unlawful. This was announced by the press office of the Verwaltungsgericht Düsseldorf. The claimants in the three cases, which were heard in mid-August, do not have to repay the emergency aid. The Land of North Rhine-Westphalia can still appeal the judgments.
In justification of its decision, the court stated that the conditions for the subsidies were unclear: When they applied, the entrepreneurs assumed that pandemic-related sales losses were decisive in order to receive and keep the money. This was clear from the information on the application forms, among other things. When issuing the final decisions and calculating the recovery, the state assumed the difference between income and expenditure.
What does the ruling mean for other entrepreneurs?
Those businesses that have paid the recoveries without appealing are unlikely to benefit from the ruling, as the time limits for appealing have already expired.
Throughout the country, many lawsuits were filed within the deadline – some 500 lawsuits are still pending at the Verwaltungsgericht Düsseldorf alone. A decision will soon be taken on whether all cases will be dealt with separately or how they will be handled.
At the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, there were many restrictions on public life, with the result that many businesses had little or no turnover. Upon request, the Land NRW provided short-term financial support – so-called emergency aid. At the end of March and beginning of April 2020, the three companies whose lawsuits are now pending each received emergency aid in the amount of EUR 9,000. However, the Bezirksregierung subsequently demanded about €7,000 back.