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6 Case Study: Delegated Legislation of the Joint Federal Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss)

6 Case Study: Delegated Legislation of the Joint Federal Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss)

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On Constitutional Duties to Give Reasons for Legislative Acts


which delegated legislation is exercised, executive legislators typically enjoy

much greater freedom than individual executive or judicial decision-makers.

Although delegated legislation generally lacks the public scrutiny of parliamentary

debate and is institutionally determined by executive proceedings, various elements

of publicity can and have been introduced into the process of different types of delegated legislation by virtue of statutory procedural rules. The rules of procedure of

the Bundesregierung, for instance, in some parts even adopt proceedings similar to

the legislative process of the Bundestag.96

So far, administrative law courts have only rarely adjudicated on the matter of the

duty to give reasons for delegated legislation and other forms of administrative

rule-making.97 Not surprisingly, the subject is highly controversial amongst legal

scholars. Some argue that all forms of executive legislation are subject to a general

duty to give reasons98 and, as in the case of other executive decisions, they consider

that the duty to give reasons for legislative acts of the executive likewise serves to

attest and ensure that the pertinent statutory requirements have been complied with.

This camp thus stresses the institutional settings of administrative rule-making

which, these observers say, remains a form of public power exercised by executive


Others have proposed more nuanced solutions to this problem. Kischel for

instance argues that duties to give reasons generally have a twofold rationale and

serve two different functions.99 First, statements of reasons facilitate subsequent

interpretation by the courts and thereby enhance the accuracy of statutory construction. Second, they serve to justify legislative measures in normative terms.

Concerning parliamentary legislation, both rationales fail to establish a constitutional duty to give reasons. As was argued in Sect. 6.4 of this chapter, general laws

enacted by the parliamentary legislature neither need to resort to auxiliary devices

that explain their provisions and communicate their purpose, nor does the parliamentary legislature generally need to justify its legislation. Concerning delegated

legislation, the first rationale equally fails. Delegated legislation is still legislation –

(albeit delegated to the executive). When enacting delegated legislation, executive

authorities are not just exercising their statutory discretion but are entitled to actively

seek and find political compromise.

As to the second rationale, unlike parliamentary legislation, delegated legislation

by executive authorities can be and often is subject to detailed statutory rules of

procedure. Such procedural requirements could be said to point towards a duty to

issue statements of reasons to ensure that these requirements and the methods of

legislation they prescribe have actually been complied with.100 To satisfy these

procedural requirements it is, however, sufficient to impose secondary obligations on


Uhle (1999: 296 sqq.).

70 BVerwGE 318 at 335 (7 C 3.83).


Ossenbühl (1986: 2809 sq.); von Danwitz (1989: 138 sqq.).


Kischel (2003: 304 sqq.); cf. also Kischel (2004).





C. Waldhoff

the executive to produce sufficient evidence if the validity of delegated legislation

is actually questioned in court.101 While to some extent similarities between

parliamentary and delegated legislation exist, these must not be over-emphasised.

Most importantly, the democratic legitimacy of parliamentary proceedings ensured

by full public debate between elected representatives of the people fundamentally

distinguishes parliamentary legislation from all other forms of legislation. The

German Constitution provides for different types and forms of delegated legislation

and administrative rule-making, notably the autonomy of self-government for local

communities (Art. 28(2) GG), and the right of the legislature under Art. 80(1) GG

to empower certain named executive authorities to legislate by way of statutory

instruments (Rechtsverordnung). Other forms of delegated legislation must satisfy a

test to establish whether they are based upon sufficient democratic legitimacy.102

The more fundamental question to be answered concerning delegated legislation is

therefore rather one of democratic legitimacy. It appears that the controversy around

duties to give reasons for delegated legislation actually concerns this underlying

issue of democratic legitimacy and that a duty to give reasons is supposed, at least

by some, to compensate for such a lack of legitimacy.

In recent years, this question has gained considerable practical relevance with

respect to the delegated legislation of the Joint Federal Committee (Gemeinsamer

Bundesausschuss). The JFC has not attracted much public nor indeed scholarly

attention so far. It is, however, the highest autonomous decision-making body governing health insurance organisations, hospitals, physicians, and dentists to regulate

their mutual affairs. It must be noted, however, that patients are not represented in

this body. Its most important task is to establish binding standards and rules that

define when and under which circumstances hospitals and other medical service

providers are entitled to be reimbursed by health insurance funds for medical care

provided to patients. As it sets binding standards for millions of patients covered by

public health insurance, and thereby effectively directs enormous sums of public

money, the JFC has considerable power and influence. The JFC was empowered to

set these standards by primary legislation. The precise legal nature of these standards was long disputed, but it is now settled that they in fact constitute generally

binding legal norms.103 It follows that the JFC is a law-making body and that it

exercises a genuinely legislative function. For this reason it is not subject to a general duty to give reasons. Imposing a duty to give reasons cannot compensate for the

potential lack of democratic legitimacy of the JFC, a body of collective selfregulation, in which the most concerned party (i.e. patients) does not have a voice.

Questions of legitimacy, however, must be addressed directly, rather than under the

guise of a duty to give reasons.


See in greater detail Sects. 6.2 and 6.7.

33 BVerfGE 125 (1 BvR 518/62).


78 BSGE 70 (6 RKa 62/94).



On Constitutional Duties to Give Reasons for Legislative Acts




Rejecting claims for a general duty to give reasons does not necessarily mean

embracing the view of Gustav Radbruch who held that, “it is the very nature of a

statute that even if passed to serve a particular purpose it does not receive its normative force and validity from this purpose. A modern legislator never utters the word

“because”. The language of modern legislative acts has adopted the harshness of

military commands, and both equally refrain from giving any reasons.”104 Under

the constitutional rule of the Basic Law the legislature has lost its former “selfaggrandisement”.105 The legislature is well entitled to give reasons and to use the

word “because”; maybe it even ought to – however, it is not obliged to do so.

To sum up the argument, the “duty to give reasons”, and more precisely the duty

to explain legislative motives, is not a legal duty under current German constitutional law but only a moral precept of political prudence.106 Under exceptional circumstances it may be regarded as a secondary constitutional obligation (Obliegenheit)

which is not directly enforceable against the legislature, but only imposes a duty on

the legislature to provide evidence.107 This is just one more example of where legislative studies, i.e. legisprudence, can point out the political virtues of good legislation but cannot stipulate constitutional obligations.108 If the legislature refuses to

disclose its motives it bears the risk of being misinterpreted. That may not only

thwart the political aims pursued by the statute, but may potentially even lead to the

statue or a certain provision therein being declared incompatible with the constitution. In this narrow legal sense, transcripts of parliamentary debates and other legislative materials do have a role to play when it comes to the constitutional question

of whether a statute is compatible with the constitution.109 The precept of political

prudence to give reasons may occasionally and under special circumstances gain

additional normative strength and become a secondary constitutional obligation if

the constitution requires the legislature to evaluate certain facts or make certain

forecasts during the process of legislation. The legislature, under such exceptional

circumstances, may forfeit its margin of appreciation and become subject to a full

review of the relevant facts by the Court. Even then the secondary obligation to give

reasons only gives rise to intensified scrutiny by the Court, but does not imply that

a statute passed without giving reasons is unconstitutional per se. The jurisprudence

of the Federal Constitutional Court on the inter-state fiscal adjustment or on limitations upon national debt (Art. 115 GG) discussed above falls into this category of

secondary obligations. The argument put forward in this chapter thus can be reconciled with the jurisprudence of the Federal Constitutional Court and also seems to


Radbruch (1959: 86).

This phrase was coined by the Reichsgericht in RGZ 118, 325, 327; 139, 177, 184.


Meßerschmidt (2000: 922).


Meßerschmidt (2000: 923 sq.); Rixecker (1999: 133 sq.); Skouris (2002: 182 sq.).


Gusy (1985) 298; Kloepfer (1982: 88 sq.).


Cf. Waldhoff (2013b).



C. Waldhoff

be in line with a broader approach taken by the Court: “The Court puts possibilities

to act before obligations to act.”110 Even if the Court tends to reason in terms of the

“obligations” of a personalised “legislator”, a closer look at the relevant decisions

reveals that ultimately only the legislative act itself is relevant for the Court’s decision. The jurisdiction of the Court in this particular respect seems in accordance

with the broader trend to impose procedural obligations to produce sufficient

evidence on litigants instead of adjudicating on potentially highly controversial

issues.111 In any case, both the precept of political prudence and its stronger equivalent, the secondary obligation to produce evidence in court, must not be interpreted

as effectively amounting to a duty to give reasons.

Historically, duties to give reasons can be observed in authoritarian and even

totalitarian states. Complex and potentially intransparent systems of multi-level

governance likewise resort to duties to give reasons. Some of the well-known features that characterise the European Union, namely a system of rather vague competences, the lack of central administrative authorities to equally apply the law, and

the potential danger of EU law being enforced by different member states only

incoherently, may seem to make it necessary that European legislative acts offer

particularly convincing reasons to be enforced. The confident and self-assured

legislatures of stable parliamentary democracies do not need to resort to such

additional measures to appeal to their own people and convince them with statements of reasons. The democratic state bound by the rule of law relies on different,

and more distant forms of law enforcement.


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Part III

Judicial Review of Legislative Consistency

and Systematicity

Chapter 7

The Obligation of Consistency in Lawmaking

Using the Example of the Ban on the Private Sale of

Public Lottery Tickets and Its Review by the Federal

Constitutional Court

Christian Bumke

Abstract Using the example of the ban on the private sale of public lottery tickets

and its review by the Federal Constitutional Court the study examines the question

whether the German Constitution comprises a duty of consistent legislature and, if

so, what its contents might be. The starting point is the realignment of the Federal

Constitutional Court’s jurisdiction that has occurred in the past few years regarding

constitutional requirements of rationality in law. This development has led to both

more concrete and broader requirements. The realignment shows particularly in the

Court’s ruling on the smoking ban in restaurants where the Court made an important

step towards establishing a general requirement of consistency. The main challenge

when establishing such a requirement is to integrate the demands of rationality and

of the rule of law into the overall conception of a democratic, constitutional state.

This is because this conception is based on the realization of limited rationality and

of the necessity of political compromise.

Keywords Consistency • Rationality • Lawmaking • Judicial Review • Federal

Constitutional Court

The article was originally published in: Der Staat 49 (2010): 77–105.

I was inspired to write this piece by a legal opinion I prepared on behalf of the Tipp 24 AG, which

deals with the Federal Constitutional Court’s dismissal decision, BVerfG, Order of 14 October

2008, 1 BvR 928/08 – Interstate-Treaty on Gambling, (fully published at juris; partially published

at 14 BVerfGK 328). Many thanks go to my academic assistant Johannes Gerberding for his support, especially for working through the factual aspects and the legal questions related to the private resale of lotteries.

C. Bumke (*)

Bucerius Law School, Jungiusstraòe 6, D-20355 Hamburg, Germany

e-mail: christian.bumke@law-school.de

â Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

K. Meßerschmidt, A.D. Oliver-Lalana (eds.), Rational Lawmaking under

Review, Legisprudence Library 3, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-33217-8_7





C. Bumke

Rational Lawmaking in the Democratic Constitutional


Traditional Reluctance Towards Rationality Review

Since long ago, it has been demanded that legislation be reasonable and adequately

tailored to the subject matters it addresses.1 It is only recently, however, that such

demands have been recognized within the doctrine of German constitutional law.

The Federal Constitutional Court issued its first decision, in which legislative rationality formed a central component of its analysis, in 1957. In the famous PharmacyJudgment (Apothekenurteil)2 it reviewed provisions of the Bavarian pharmacy

according to the principle that amongst several equally effective alternatives the

least invasive must be chosen (Grundsatz der Erforderlichkeit) and examined

whether the targets and prognoses underlying the rules were reasonably justifiable.3

What today seems like a matter of course for every German lawyer was at the time

an epochal step towards constitutionally restraining the legislator and establishing a

minimal required standard of reason in legislation.4

Especially in times where the regulative idea behind central parts of the legal

system is to ensure the appropriate functioning of complex societal and technical

structures – such as the financial markets –,5 rationality forms an essential foundation

for legitimacy.6 We adhere to the public legal order because it is rational and contains adequate solutions to the problems it aims to address.7 The constitution


Scheuner (1978: 532, 537, 539); Siehr (2005: 541 et seqq.); Grawert (1975: 864 et seqq.);

Schulze-Fielitz (1988: 458): “Since the enlightenment, rational legislation has been a pleonasm

and a standard that cannot be deserted at will but that is unavoidable for all contemporary forms of

lawmaking.” (Translation by the author.)

On the search for expectations of rationality towards legislation, one finds a variety of ideas.

Some conceptualize the law so that it by definition has to fulfill specific requirements of rationality.

Others understand the law in an instrumental sense. Among the latter approaches, some formulate

demands of rationality towards the content of the law (as for example the normative economic

analysis of law does) and others concentrate on the procedure of lawmaking.


BVerfG, Order of 11 June 1958, 1 BvR 596/56, 7 BVerfGE 377 at 409 et seqq. – Pharmacy-Judgment.


Bumke (1998: 144 et seq.).


Scheuner (1958), 849. See also the considerations of Forsthoff (1955: 233, 235). Lerche (1961:

98 et seqq.) suggests that the requirement to choose the least invasive amongst several equally

effective options (Gebot der Erforderlichkeit) may vary in scope depending on context, and regarding the Pharmacy-Judgment, Lerche (1958: 232 et seq.).


See Bumke (2008: 228 et seq. in a general sense and 232 et seq. with regard to the capital



Idea of output legitimacy, seminal work by Scharpf (1970: 21 et seqq.), summarizing presentations by Rumler-Korinek (2003: 328 et seqq.).


Regarding legislation in the international sphere, this is one of the major approaches for the compensation of seemingly or actually existing democratic deficits, see Scharpf (2005: 705 et seqq.;

and 1999: 20 et seqq.); Slaughter (2004: 108 et seqq., 193 et seqq.). Regarding the state of the

debate, see Kirsch (2008: 87 et seqq.).


The Obligation of Consistency in Lawmaking


expresses this rational conception of the law in several different ways – most importantly through the principle of proportionality, which allowed to effectively bind the

legislative to the Constitution’s basic rights.8

But rationality also has its dark side. First of all, it is inherently limited9: Our

knowledge about ourselves, our society and the dynamics at play within it does not

reach far and our future is often uncertain. This alone shows that those who make

general rules designed to shape societal future should be granted some leeway with

regard to their decisions and the assumptions they base these decisions on.10

Besides recognizing these immanent limitations it is important not to separate

the idea of rationality as a guiding standard for the provision of societal order from

the conceptual world of the democratic constitutional state, but to develop it as one

component within that world.11 Like the market, the democratic constitutional state

is a response to our bounded societal knowledge. Both institutions serve the purpose

of solving central societal knowledge problems. While the market answers the question of which goods a society should produce and how societal resources and goods

should be distributed,12 the democratic constitutional state defines the common

good and answers how political power is organized and distributed.13 Separating the

idea of rational order from this context may not only lead to a misconception of the

knowledge problem but also to a questionable dichotomy between an assumed regulatory rationality and the democratic decision-making process.14


Dreier (2004: Vorb. marginal no. 144 et seqq.); Grzeszick (2006: Art. 20 marginal no. 107); Kraft

(2007: 578 et seq.); Bumke (1998: 40 et seq., 124 et seqq., 144 et seqq.).


These inherent limitations are less about the correct definition of rationality (cf. side remarks on

various conceptions of rationality regarding the rationality of lawmaking as a research interest by

Meßerschmidt 2000: 795 including footnote 85; and Schulze-Fielitz 1988: 454 et seq., both with

further references), but more about the fact that any conception regardless of its design quickly

reaches the limits of what it can achieve.


Of course, the legal system can chose not recognize this insight and grant another government

body, such as a constitutional court, the competence to replace the legislator’s judgments with its



This requires viewing the institution of the democratic constitutional state not solely as a question of the form of government, but as an independent construct of political community, see

Möllers (2008: 80 et seqq.).


Regarding the functions of the market, cf. Homann and Suchanek (2005: 213 et seqq.).

Conceptually prior to the market mechanism is the question of how the resources and goods present within a society can be organized and distributed fairly. The market is an important instrument,

but not the only one, for answering the distributive question.


The thoughts of Isensee (2003: marginal no. 109 et seqq.) point in a different direction.


This is not to deny the possibility of frictions between rational order and democratic lawmaking.

But the fact that what is rational tends to be determined by reference to discourse and proceduralization (see Scheit 1987) shows how closely together both modes of generating order lie, see

Homann (1988: 266 et seqq.); Karpen (1989: 43); Noll (1973: 70); Meßerschmidt (2000: 811

et seqq.).

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