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GbR liability - liability in a company under civil law (GbR)

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1. What is a GbR?

2. When should I set up a GbR?

3. Legal capacity and liability of the company under civil law

4. Limitation of GbR liability

5. The effect on the right to deduct input tax

6. Building corporate assets

7. Reserves and profit generation as investment vehicles

8. Difference between GbR and OHG

What exactly is a GbR?

The abbreviation GbR stands for society under civil law. It is easy to set up and easy to manage. In this regard, it is the simplest variant of a partnership that can be founded on the basis of two natural or legal persons. The advantage is that it can be set up completely without minimum capital, which means that you can pursue your own corporate goal without further restrictions or liability.

There is also relatively little effort involved in setting up a GbR. In this way, there are no major financial expenses that can become dangerous over time in pursuit of your own business goals. The administration is also transparent and clear from a tax point of view, which means that the simple income-surplus calculation is sufficient for annual sales of a maximum of EUR 260,000 and a profit of EUR 25,000.

In these cases a GbR is founded

If you are considering starting a GbR yourself, it is usually based on a detailed social contract. In this, the rights and obligations of the partners for the establishment can be laid down in order to be able to fall back on a meaningful and clear document in the event of a dispute. Further information on how to proceed in the event of problems or liability can be noted there.

When founding the company, make sure that the company name of the company must contain both the first and last names of both founders. The abbreviation GbR is also required, but other abbreviations are not permitted. You can then secure yourself with a civil law company for everything related to your industry. The foundation is ideal for the following groups:

  • Small craft and commercial businesses
  • Freelancers such as lawyers and doctors
  • Foresters and farmers
  • Working groups in the construction industry
  • Corporations and cartel

Legal capacity and liability of the GbR

Even if a GbR was previously not granted legal capacity, this element of jurisdiction has changed over time. The GbR is now granted at least partial legal capacity, even if the boundaries are not completely clear. Similar to liability, however, certain prerequisites must be observed from situation to situation in order to meet all legal requirements of the BGB.

Within liability, both partners are always responsible for a decision. Liability is fully unlimited and may well be combined with private assets. According to the German Civil Code (BGB), this enables legal transactions to be carried out independently, but this form of administration does not ignore liabilities. Due to the liability with all private assets, good business management is required right from the start in order to avoid financial damage.

Limitation of GbR liability

When founding a GbR, you should always make sure that you and the second partner act as unanimously and jointly as possible. This is the only way to make decisions that affect both partners equally and that follow BGH rulings. Even if you are well protected thanks to the obligation to jointly decide on all aspects of your liability, you should not allow yourself to be restricted in your freedoms. For this reason, a specific recording of the social contract is usually the best idea.

When it comes to liability, it is important to use such a contract to make certain agreements. In this regard, internal regulations are the only way to independently distribute the competencies in the GbR and to document the procedure in the event of problems. The details from the articles of association are therefore the only approaches to discuss liability in advance and to direct the fate of the company. In purely legal terms, however, the availability of a contract has no effect on liability itself.

The effect on the right to deduct input tax

If the GbR is subject to sales tax based on its profits and sales, the amount of the tax can be shown on the invoices. The input tax can then be claimed again if the invoice was specifically addressed to the GbR. In the event of a dispute, the tax office can ensure that the amounts are withdrawn, but this can often be corrected with an objection within a period of one month. However, this has no effect on the liability for the claims of the creditors.

Here we explain in an article the requirements to be eligible for input tax deduction.

Building corporate assets

After founding a GbR, many entrepreneurs ask themselves how concrete corporate assets can result from previous values. As a rule, this is made up of the contributions made in the articles of association, which have been comprehensively agreed in advance. The authorizations and objects acquired by the GbR are also part of the business assets.

However, you have to note that the management of the assets depends on a holistic implementation. This means that you may only dispose of the available capital in consultation with the founding partner. In order to be able to use the company's assets for the further development of the company, unity is essential. But how exactly is the articles of association linked to liability?

Reserves and profit generation as investment vehicles

In order to be successful with your own GbR and the associated investments, a concrete procedure should first be determined. This avoids the need for liability or damage. With further investments, you can also avoid insolvency over time, so that the GbR is able to build up a certain equity step by step. The power of representation can also be determined in advance in the context of liability with the articles of association, whereby the basis for action in the GbR is always given.

This is how GbR and OHG differ

Another partnership is the OHG. This depends on the purpose of running a trade, whereby the purpose was already defined in advance. It is therefore imperative to ensure that you are entered in the commercial register and to plan the scope of your own activities. In terms of liability, there are hardly any differences according to the BGB, which means that both partners are equally liable with their own private assets.

With the entry in the commercial register, the GbR becomes an OHG. The focus here is also on the creditor, who benefits from clear liability based on his open claims. In the case of the GmbH, this liability looks different, which means that liability only applies to the company's assets. Here too, however, the details are noted in the articles of association, which means that liability is always clearly clarified.

Hendrik Kehres
Hendrik is an expert in online marketing & SEO. Here he gives tips about finances, accounting and founding for the self-employed and all those who are still in the planning phase.

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