In the spring of 2020, the federal state approved a large number of lump-sum grants of 9,000 euros to companies in need, including the three plaintiffs, via the "NRW-Soforthilfe 2020" funding program. Only later was it checked whether the company's own funds would not have been sufficient to cover the payment obligations without the grant.
The state set the emergency aid lower than originally approved by final decisions and demanded back partial amounts. This was justified by the fact that the payments were only provisional.
On the other hand, the three self-employed complained to the Düsseldorf administrative court and were right. The court considered the final decisions to be unlawful because the state based the calculation of the emergency aid solely on a liquidity bottleneck. However, the approval notices also allow the immediate aid to be used to compensate for lost sales.
The Higher Administrative Court agreed with the administrative court's decision and dismissed the state's appeal. The state did not comply with the binding requirements from the approval notices when requesting reimbursement. However, it also stated that the state may still reclaim immediate aid paid from recipients if they do not need the money or only partially need it in the three-month approval period in spring 2020. The revision was not admitted in all three proceedings.
According to the information, there are eight other comparable proceedings at the Higher Administrative Court. A total of around 2,500 lawsuits were filed in the seven administrative courts in North Rhine-Westphalia.