Consensus decision-making

The principle of consensus is a way for decision making in a group. Decisions are made here without a dissenting vote. The consensus is in common usage as an alternative to the principle of majority. The legal term consensus principle is used in property law.

General term

Decisions by consensus often require no explicit consent, but also not compatible with open rejection. All group members must agree, or be willing to abandon or defer their dissent, and their concerns about the decision to be made. You then enter the decision despite their concerns.

To be distinguished from the consensus principle is the principle of collegiality, in which the decisions are made internally according to the principle of majority rule, but represented externally with one voice.

Pros and Cons

The advantage of consensus is that the voice of each individual has great weight and must be heard. The consensus principle assumes a high responsibility in the group because everyone Voters must be aware that his 'No' to process blocked. He has to weigh for themselves whether his reasons are so important to stop the process, or whether he restores his concerns and wants to support the decision.

Voters are free of open or secret cliques, little people-oriented and the skillful use of rhetorical skills independently. Consensus decisions are characterized by a highly oriented in the thing itself and the overall objective discussion style. The processual nature of decision-making will get a much higher weight. A group that agrees on a consensus principle, must have a high level of mutual trust to work in spite of different opinions on the same target.

The disadvantage especially in a discussion process that can be very time consuming. By the de facto right of the individual there is the possibility that a decision - for whatever reason - can not be made. Especially groups that barely know each other, are blocked fast. If everyone who wants to have safeguarded its interests, is not interested in the functioning of the group, no decision can be made.


The principle of consensus achieved in recent German policy contexts first notoriety as the basis of decision making in the " nonviolent action groups " that are known for example from the debate about the storage of nuclear waste in Wendland ago. Members of the network attac, in which the principle of consensus is also the practice are that it proved on the whole, the view is quite. In addition, be taken in many self-managed projects of the ecology movement decisions by consensus. Even at international conferences and organizations, such as OSCE or NATO, are decisions by consensus like.

Real estate property law

The Grundbuchordnung stipulates that a right may only be entered in the share register if the registration of the person concerned (usually the owner) has approved this ( § 19 GBO ). The Land Registry checks usually not whether the privilege was appointed effective because it is assumed that no one agrees without legal basis of an incriminating entry. It is said that the Land Registry has only to note the formal principle of consensus, since both his obligation to examine as well as his right of inspection does not extend to substantive law. In the case of transfer of ownership to the land registry must have the agreement on the transfer of rights (conveyance ) demonstrated ( § 20 GBO ). The same applies when transferring or changing of heritable building rights. The Land Registry may and must consider the materiall - legal validity and has therefore to comply with the so-called substantive consensus.