Dissolving our association

2015.09.01 by Matthias Kirschner in #fsfe #internal #legal

When a group of dedicated hackers founded Free Software Foundation Europe there was no usable legal basis for establishing a European wide legal entity, and it is still difficult to do so. The founders came up with the following approach: create a European “Hub” organisation as an e.V. in Germany as the central legal body, the core of the Free Software Foundation Europe, where the members should be formed by representatives of local FSFE Chapter's registered in the different European countries. They started to implement this, first the “Hub” and then a German Chapter.

Two man and a child cleaing a carpet

Chapters were meant to be "modular, local legal bodies of the FSFE, formed by the members of the FSFE from that country and sometimes guest members from other countries. Their main function would be to receive deductible donations, where possible." They should be "integrated throughout the FSFE with their statutes, giving the national teams of FSFE the freedom and autonomy to address the local issues in the way appropriate for the cultural and social identity in those countries."

In the years afterwards it turned out that for a lot of countries this structure is a problem. There were no benefits from a local association and also often you did not need it to act as a country team for FSFE. There is also additional bureaucracy you have to take care of; filing reports to different authorities, and have certain laws which regulate how you can work together which might not fit the group's needs.

By the end of 2014, the only other association beside "FSFE e.V." was "FSFE Chapter Germany e.V." The members of FSFE e.V. decided on November 9th, 2014, to dissolve the chapter to get rid of bureaucratic tasks and concentrate on our mission.

But dissolving an association is not as easy as you might think it would be. It involved the following steps:

  • discussions with the bank how to transfer the bank account to FSFE e.V.
  • informing the register court about us dissolving. They replied that we have to send that information signed by a notary. We did that. Then they told us, we have to clarify a part, namely that "one liquidator decided alone, several liquidators decide together". Yes, I think that is obvious, but they wanted it in written form and signed by a notary. The notary also could not believe it, but again we did it.
  • We had to send a notice to an official announcement paper to inform the public that we will dissolve ourselves (yes, you have to pay a fee for that). The liquidation of Chapter Germany was announced on 5 May 2015 in the "Amtlicher Anzeiger" (PDF, page 16) with the date of 13 April 2015.

Now we have to wait until next year April to see if anyone thinks we still owe them money. After this time we can again go to a notary, and then finally close down FSFE Chapter Germany e.V.