Effects of the new defi­ni­ti­on of mate­ri­al defects on the draf­ting of GTCs

Need to adapt gene­ral terms and con­di­ti­ons clau­ses fol­lo­wing chan­ges to the law on the sale of goods as of 1 Janu­ary 2022

One of the most important inno­va­tions in the law on the sale of goods is the chan­ge in the defi­ni­ti­on of mate­ri­al defects. Pro­ducts are only to be dee­med free of defects if they cor­re­spond to the sub­jec­ti­ve agree­ments of the par­ties and the objec­ti­ve qua­li­ty requi­re­ments are met. The sub­jec­ti­ve and objec­ti­ve requi­re­ments for the defec­ti­ve­ness of a pro­duct are thus now of equal importance.

Need for adapt­a­ti­on of gene­ral terms and con­di­ti­ons for the sale of con­su­mer goods

Nega­ti­ve agree­ments on qua­li­ty must be agreed in accordance with the spe­cial pre­re­qui­si­tes in § 476 I 2 Nos.1 and 2 of the Civil Code (new ver­si­on). Pre­re­qui­si­te for a vari­ant agree­ment on qua­li­ty is that the entre­pre­neur must spe­ci­fi­cal­ly inform the con­su­mer in the pro­duct descrip­ti­on that a fea­ture of the goods varies from the objec­ti­ve qua­li­ty and that the varia­ti­on must have been express­ly and sepa­ra­te­ly agreed in the con­tract befo­re the sub­mis­si­on of the con­trac­tu­al decla­ra­ti­on. Any varia­ti­on from the objec­ti­ve con­di­ti­on can no lon­ger be agreed impli­cit­ly by a cor­re­spon­ding pro­vi­si­on in the GTCs, as was pre­vious­ly the case. The­r­e­fo­re, con­sent to the varia­ti­on in qua­li­ty through a pre-ticked box is no lon­ger suf­fi­ci­ent. On the other hand, it would be pos­si­ble for the con­su­mer to inde­pendent­ly check a box on the web­site, so that the con­su­mer con­scious­ly cons­ents to the varia­ti­on from the objec­ti­ve requi­re­ments of the quality.

Recom­men­da­ti­on for action for companies

The new defi­ni­ti­on of a mate­ri­al defect has been appli­ca­ble to all sale con­tracts sin­ce 1 Janu­ary 22 and affects all com­pa­nies ope­ra­ting in the B2C and B2B seg­ments. The­r­e­fo­re, when con­clu­ding the sale con­tract, espe­ci­al­ly in e‑commerce, the con­su­mer should agree to the varia­ti­on by actively opting in if the pro­duct shows signs of use or is defec­ti­ve, for exam­p­le. In addi­ti­on, entre­pre­neurs should review their own pro­ducts for com­pa­ti­bi­li­ty with the new defi­ni­ti­on of defects and, in the cour­se of this, adapt their gene­ral terms and con­di­ti­ons and sam­ple con­tracts in such a way that no war­ran­ty or dama­ge com­pen­sa­ti­on claims ari­se. Other­wi­se, the­se claims could ari­se even if the pro­duct has the agreed qua­li­ty. In addi­ti­on, it is advi­sa­ble to review con­tracts with sup­pli­ers and manu­fac­tu­r­ers and, if pos­si­ble, to estab­lish a con­cur­rence of obli­ga­ti­ons towards cus­to­mers. Like­wi­se, the new pro­vi­si­ons on the bur­den of pro­of, rec­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of defects and It must be dead­lines in the GTCs must be


In prin­ci­ple, a nega­ti­ve qua­li­ty agree­ment is still pos­si­ble. Howe­ver, this can no lon­ger be done in gene­ral terms and con­di­ti­ons. The stric­ter requi­re­ments for the sale of con­su­mer goods must be taken into account. Entre­pre­neurs may eli­cit such a decla­ra­ti­on, for exam­p­le, in an online purcha­se by having a but­ton or box on their web­site so that the con­su­mer con­firms it by cli­cking on it or, as the case may be, by other means. Impli­ed con­sent is no lon­ger pos­si­ble.

You can find a con­den­sed over­view with recom­men­da­ti­ons for action when draf­ting con­tracts in the fol­lo­wing Power­Point presentation.


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