Public Law

Experienced advisors for federal, state and local governments

Each of us is required to abide by the law – especially in our capacity as participants in economic life. Legislation and administration shape the framework conditions for all economic activities, whereby public law also plays an important role.
Legislation and regulations created at four different levels – EU, federal, state and local – are subject to frequent changes due to their relative proximity to day-to-day political business.
Against this background, it is our mission to accompany our clients calmly and safely to their desired goal. Our expertise in administrative law extends from the support of legislative projects to advice in administrative proceedings and representation before administrative tribunals. Our comprehensive advisory approach goes far beyond answering legal questions; rather, we offer early identification of all legal requirements, timely communication and public relations work with project participants & affected parties and comprehensive project support.
We advise and represent both commercial enterprises and public corporations and provide our clients with varied, multi-perspective experience and knowledge of the internal decision-making processes in companies and administrative authorities.
Due to the stringent formal requirements and importance of written legal texts in public law, we attach particular importance to the highest level of quality and academic standards.

Public commercial law & administrative law

In some cases, public administration participates in the economy in a regulatory role – through issuing permits, allocating subsidies and carrying out planning activities. In others, it takes an active part in the economic process – by auditing the economic activity of businesses in the interests of the general public, being economically active as a municipality or procuring goods as a public body and making use of private services.
The relationship between administration and business is also shaped by the (partial) privatization of public services and the recent trend towards re-municipalization. In some areas, the administration and business sectors work together in partnership to manage public tasks (public-private partnerships).
We guide you safely through the jungle of subsidy programs and regulations and ensure that nothing prevents the public funding for your projects. We identify the relevant planning specifications for your particular venture and, where necessary, defend your claims for approval in court.
In the event that measures are taken by trade supervisory agencies, we ensure that proportionality and legal requirements are observed and, where necessary, challenge injunctions in court.
We have been advising on public procurement procedures for many years and have decades of experience participating in such procedures. This is the basis on which we advise you as a client and represent your interests in award and review procedures.
As specialists in administrative law, we offer support for the following:
  • Public procurement procedures and review procedures pursuant to public procurement law, and the implementation of such procedures
  • Privatization or re-municipalization
  • The design and maintenance of compliance instruments (creation of internal guidelines, training of employees and establishment of whistleblower channels)
  • Comprehensive employee training in all relevant areas of compliance (antitrust law, labor law, data protection law, tax law, environmental law and white-collar criminal law)

Public building law

Public building law is an essential sub-area of German construction and real estate law, though it also touches on aspects of administrative law. We have many years of experience as specialist lawyers in the field.
Our particular expertise lies in the following areas:
  • Exploration of suitable building sites with regard to regional planning, urban land-use planning and other regulations (e.g. nature conservation law, water protection law)
  • Determination of building permit and notification requirements
  • Preparation of building applications in accordance with construction planning law
  • Formulation of outline building applications
  • Oversight of decision procedures for building permits and outline building permits
  • Defending and challenging building permits in court
  • Legal support for project-related or other development plan procedures
  • Enforcement of your interests in negotiations and drafting of urban development contracts
  • Securing the development of building sites in accordance with building code law
  • Formulation of a position for urban land-use planning procedures and regional planning procedures
  • Negotiation support in issues of special urban planning law and monument protection
We use our many years of experience and knowledge to conduct due diligence processes in the takeover of land, facilities or business premises and thus to ascertain not only the existing development opportunities under public law, but also any restrictions and/or suitable solutions.

Special urban planning law

Special urban planning law contains regulations regarding (re)development areas and urban restructuring measures and thus establishes the framework conditions for municipalities and their planning of urban developments. Municipalities should ensure that municipal districts are developed in accordance with planning law and are used in a socially equitable manner.
Frequent questions arising in this regard include:
  • What is the proper way to prepare for urban redevelopments?
  • Which legal particularities apply for urban redevelopment areas?
  • What needs to be taken into account when planning urban development measures?
  • How can urban restructuring be legally safeguarded?
The team at ZENK are highly specialized in this field of law and are happy to provide you with skilled, reliable support in all particularities of urban development law, including:
  • The drafting of statute-compliant measures and the legally compliant involvement of fiduciary redevelopment or development agencies
  • Parallel urban land-use planning
  • Negotiation of urban development contracts
  • Initiation of contribution collection procedures
  • Determination of options for financing and state aid/subsidies from the Federal Government, the Federal States or the EU (state aid and subsidy law)

Environmental law & environmental liability in public law

Environmental law contains a wealth of legal provisions. If an infringement occurs, there is a risk of serious consequences. In some cases, owners, companies and managing directors are confronted repeatedly with claims for damages resulting from environmental damage or the environmental impacts of commercial plants.
As specialists in environmental law, we help you fend off such claims or oppose allegations of personal liability. In addition, we provide preventive support in matters of environmental protection and environmental liability – by establishing a system of compliance management in your organization, for example.

Local constitutional law & local budget law

The municipality is afforded a special significance in the state structure of the Federal Republic of Germany, with towns and municipalities assigned numerous tasks under statutory law. For example, municipalities or municipal associations are obliged to maintain efficient public facilities.
At ZENK, we are experts in advising and representing local authorities and public authorities on tasks connected with their economic activities, e.g.
  • The collection of levies
  • Matters related to urban land-use planning and special urban planning law
  • The drafting of statutes
However, there is also a significant demand for advice on municipal constitutional and budgetary law. This is because, while municipalities are dependent on public revenue, tax collection rights are determined largely by the federal government and federal states are often left with chronic budget deficits.
As a specialized legal practice for municipal issues, we support municipalities and public authorities in their economic pursuits. Our work in this area is based on client relationships nurtured over a number of years. We know the local conditions, work intensively (and on a peer basis) with administrative staff and are able to present joint work results convincingly to local decision-making bodies and supervisory authorities.

Local tax law, contribution law & law on fees and charges

Local (or municipal) tax law regulates the financing of public services and facilities in the form of fees and contributions (local tax statutes).
In Germany, most public services and infrastructure – e.g. road construction, public sewage or waste disposal, street cleaning and water supply – are financed at the municipal level.
When it comes to contributions by companies and other tax debtors, or if a municipality is faced with refinancing costs, the amounts involved can be very large.
We advise our clients reliably on:
  • The design and implementation of fee and contribution models
  • The legally compliant calculation of tax rates
  • The negotiation of tax-related contracts for commercial clients (e.g. large water consumers, oversized lots, operators of internal (company-owned) sewage treatment systems) in specific cases (e.g. compensation agreements or development agreements)
  • Assistance in tax litigation proceedings
  • monitoring the opinion-forming process within corporate bodies

Public procurement law

Public procurement law is subject to ongoing change and was last comprehensively reformed by the public procurement law reform of 2016. Since October 2018, all EU-wide tenders have also been subject to the obligation to use eProcurement (in particular via procurement platforms). The law for national invitations to tender has similarly been comprehensively revised – including by the UVgO (Sub-Threshold Procurement Ordinance), the VOB/A 2019 (German Construction Contract Procedures Part A 2019) and the new state-level procurement laws. In addition, there is a need to observe the increasingly differentiated case law arising from public procurement tribunals, higher regional courts and – not least the European Court of Justice itself.
Our experienced team of lawyers has many years of expertise in the legally compliant, non-objectionable and, above all, the practically-oriented preparation of tender documents, as well as in the legally watertight execution of award procedures. We advise public sector clients and bidders in Hamburg and throughout Germany on:
  • Construction tenders (EU VOB/A)
  • Sectoral procurement (SektVO)
  • The awarding of contracts to architects and engineers (VgV)
  • Architectural competitions
  • The awarding of contracts for supplies and services (VgV, UVgO)
ZENK offers solution-oriented, practice-proven support in a range of areas, including and especially the following:
  • Determination of the suitability criteria and selection of applicants in the competitive bidding process
  • Formulation of award criteria and evaluation matrix
  • Coordination of the contractual components (general T&Cs, special T&Cs, supplementary T&Cs, planner contracts and construction contracts)
  • The proper application of the VHB Bund (federal procurement manual), vv-bau (administrative regulations on construction) and other procurement manuals
  • The proper implementation of procurement regulations
While award procedures are pending, our experienced lawyers provide comprehensive representation with the shortest possible response times.

Energy law & energy industry law in public law

We advise you comprehensively on all issues of energy supply and in the planning, construction and operation of plants based on renewable and conventional energies. We oversee all steps in the implementation of a project, from the initial project idea to its successful realization.
In the field of renewable energies, we advise project developers and plant manufacturers and operators on offshore and onshore wind energy, photovoltaics, biomass and hydropower. We help these clients make optimal use of legal and tax requirements under the EEG (German Renewable Energy Sources Act) and to optimally exploit market conditions.
We also serve as an expert point of contact for “Waste to Energy” and for changes in waste and energy law. Our range of services includes:
  • Advice on all EEG issues (remuneration, grid access, permissible biomass feedstocks and biofuels)
  • Support for issues under planning law (zoning, development planning, project-related development planning)
  • Support for approval procedures, possible issues with contaminated sites and procedures under public procurement law
  • Drafting and negotiation of all civil, energy and public law contracts, in particular:
  • Urban development contracts
  • Land and building-related usage agreements and agreements relating to easements and public dues
  • Commercial tax splitting agreements in favor of local communities
  • Project takeover agreements
  • Financing agreements
  • Plant construction contracts
  • General contractor/EPC Contracts
  • Contracts with specialist planners
  • Purchase contracts for plants or plant components
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Operating agreements
  • Agreements on shared transformer substations
  • Grid connection contracts
  • Feed-in tariff agreements
  • Direct marketing contracts
  • Market premium model contracts
We support you through the construction phase and enforce warranty rights or payment claims based on performance and availability guarantees. We draft and negotiate contracts for the purchase and sale of offshore and onshore wind farms or solar parks as asset deals or share deals and carry out the corresponding review of due diligence documents. Our project financing know-how helps you achieve the greatest possible return on your investment.
We also offer a comprehensive portfolio of services in the field of conventional energies (coal, gas and steam power plants, combined heat and power plants and thermal waste treatment plants): from planning law, the approval procedure and advice on public procurement law to the drafting and negotiation of plant construction contracts and the drafting of purchase contracts for the primary raw material.
We support every project with our know-how on possible project financing routes and examine potential investment subsidies. If the acquisition of funding appears possible, the project is designed in such a way that all funding opportunities can be optimally exploited. It goes without saying that any consequences of emissions trading are also taken into account.
In addition to energy contracting, the drafting and negotiation of contracts for the supply of useful energy (heat, steam, cooling) and electricity is another focus of our activities.
Grids
We deal with all issues concerning grid access and grid usage fees, both on the side of energy supply companies, project developers and companies and on the side of municipalities. We also advise local authorities and energy supply companies on road usage agreements and grid takeovers.
Further important fields of activity include:
  • Surcharges and related exemptions under the EEG (German Renewable Energy Sources Act) and the KWK (Combined Heat and Power Act)
  • Nationwide load balancing as well as all tax-related electricity and energy issues
  • Tax refunds and exemptions
  • Economic optimization of energy supply for companies through advantageous plant configuration and carefully planned plant and energy supply concepts, including CO2 management
In all areas we provide complete advice during all stages of construction.

Company purchase & sale

We are happy to support you with the necessary due diligence under public law if you wish to purchase shares in companies, plants, real estate, if you wish to purchase entire company, or if you are planning and carrying out a business takeover or a company sale.
As part of this process, we can help you with:
  • The determination of value-creating factors under public law (company valuation)
  • The examination of relevant regional planning, zoning and development plans, and the ascertainment of development possibilities
  • Analyzing the approval situation and taking care of possible appeals and summary proceedings
  • The ascertainment of requirements relating to building encumbrances, or the completeness and effectiveness of existing encumbrances
  • The evaluation of existing public law contracts for supply and disposal services
  • The adaptation and drafting of public and private law contracts
We are also happy to support you with your legal process management. This includes, for example, close coordination with other experts and coordination of the due diligence process with the negotiation management team.

Data protection law & information law

The proper handling of sensitive data is an increasingly important issue. In today’s business world, personal data is the raw material for targeted marketing and has thus become an important economic asset.
Private individuals, interest groups and companies alike attempt to obtain data held by authorities about other private individuals, organizations or enterprises by invoking environmental information or freedom of information regulations. However, these claims are often a smokescreen for industrial espionage.
Legally, the person requesting the information is not required to have a legitimate interest in obtaining it. Conversely, there are also isolated attempts to defend against requests for information and disclosure by citing the violation of company and trade secrets as an excuse.
Due to the many complex provisions of the German Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, the constantly evolving technical possibilities and the severe penalties for breaches of data protection law, caution is required when dealing with data security and data collection.
With a team of lawyers specialized in data protection law, ZENK can provide in-depth support for all matters of data protection and information law. We help you to balance your entrepreneurial interests with the right of individuals to informational self-determination, regardless of whether this concerns your employee or customer data.

Public service law & civil service law

Around 4.5 million civil service officials, administrative employees and other staff are now employed in the public sector. While civil service law is characterized by a special duty of care and loyalty, other public sector employees are subject to regular labor law.
This means that the legal relationships between employer and employee are complex. Both individual labor law and collective labor law (e.g. personnel representation law, collective bargaining law) are relevant in this context. A further complicating factor is that the public sector is overseen by various jurisdictions. The administrative courts are responsible for civil servant disputes, while the labor courts are responsible for disputes between employers and administrative employees or other staff. Diverging decisions made by different branches of the courts lead to additional uncertainties in practice.
Due to our in-depth experience as lawyers in the labor and administrative field (with a number of specialists among our ranks), we can offer you comprehensive, needs-based legal advice. Contact us for a personal consultation.

Legislation

The implementation and interpretation of legislators’ requirements form the core of what a lawyer does. In individual cases, however, legislators may also require legal advice. We support legislators in drafting public law bills, examine draft laws by ministries and are available to advise on draft laws in parliamentary committees, among other activities.

Trade law, craft law & restaurant licensing law

There are numerous regulations in commercial administrative law governing the taking-up and pursuit of a trade or craft. In addition, some activities – such as the food industry, catering or the operation of certain facilities and equipment – are affected by their own, special rules.
Some activities must be declared to the authorities and chambers or approved by the state.
Our main practice areas are trade law, craft law, restaurant licensing law and food law, where we support you in:
  • Obtaining authorization for trade or craft activities
  • Defending against impending prohibitions of the trade or craft
  • Proceedings concerning administrative offences subject to a fine
We have a very good understanding of existing professional obligations, legal requirements for the learning and practice of certain crafts and exceptions to the obligation to obtain a Master Craftman’s Certificate (the German “Meisterqualifikationspflicht”). Further relevant information on trade law, crafts law or restaurant licensing law can be obtained through personal legal consultation.

Transport infrastructure law

Every form of economic activity relies on transport. When it comes to transporting goods and merchandise, transport – whether by road, rail, water or air – must function smoothly and cost-effectively.
Whether road closures for heavy goods traffic or problems with the use of a company-owned rail connection – transport infrastructure law is a complicated legal discipline with an increasing number of (European) regulations.
As well as assisting our clients with traditional traffic offences due to violations of the German Road Traffic Regulations, we advise them on all key issues pertaining to road law, road traffic law and railway infrastructure law, e.g.:
  • Questions concerning the establishment of a transport infrastructure and the special use of roads
  • The zoning/development of land plots as public transport areas
  • The drafting of grid access and grid usage contracts
Our goal is always to find a quick and effective solution that meets your interests, not to pursue a lengthy litigation process.
Our negotiation experience and many years of practical experience with transport-related local authorities and infrastructure companies will help you achieve this.