Lifel­ong obli­ga­ti­on for manu­fac­tu­rers to sup­ply spa­re parts?

Alt­hough manu­fac­tu­rers have a big inte­rest in manu­fac­tu­ring high-quality pro­ducts, it is only natu­ral that their pro­ducts will even­tual­ly stop working, in who­le or in part. A defec­ti­ve pro­duct can often be repai­red by repla­cing indi­vi­du­al com­pon­ents. Many buy­ers pre­fer to have their pro­ducts repai­red rather than incur the expen­se of buy­ing a new pro­duct. But they can­not do so if the manu­fac­tu­rer choo­ses to dis­con­ti­nue pro­duc­tion (of spa­re parts for) the product.

This rai­ses the ques­ti­on as to how long manu­fac­tu­rers are requi­red to sup­ply con­su­mers with necessa­ry spa­re parts.

Only recent­ly, in its Order of 18 Febru­a­ry 2019, the Hig­her Regio­nal Court of Frank­furt am Main made a state­ment as to the cir­cum­s­tan­ces under which manu­fac­tu­rers or importers are requi­red to do so (Hig­her Regio­nal Court of Frank­furt am Main, Order of 18 Febru­a­ry 2019 – Case No. 13 U 186/17).

Dea­lers

Manu­fac­tu­rers are requi­red in each case to con­ti­nue sup­ply­ing spa­re parts for two years for a peri­od of two years after their pro­duct goes off the mar­ket so that their B2B cus­to­mers will have access to the appro­pria­te parts and are in a posi­ti­on to offer them to their cus­to­mers who purcha­sed their pro­ducts under war­ran­ty. Manu­fac­tu­rers and dea­lers may reach con­trac­tu­al arran­ge­ments which go bey­ond this period.

Con­su­mers

In most cases, the­re is no purcha­se agree­ment bet­ween the buy­er and the manu­fac­tu­rer on which such a claim can be based. But in prac­ti­ce, manu­fac­tu­rers some­ti­mes adver­ti­se their pro­ducts by gua­ran­te­eing that ori­gi­nal spa­re parts will be avail­ab­le for a cer­tain peri­od of time. In gene­ral, such manu­fac­tu­rer gua­ran­tees may be used to deri­ve con­trac­tu­al claims for the con­su­mer against the manu­fac­tu­rer direct­ly so that the manu­fac­tu­rer would be requi­red to sup­ply spa­re parts for the ent­i­re­ty of the adver­ti­sed period.

In its Order, the Hig­her Regio­nal Court stres­sed that no rule of law exists in eit­her Ger­man law or EU con­su­mer law on which con­su­mers could base a claim to deli­very of spa­re parts throughout the product’s ent­i­re life cycle.

On the other hand, the Hig­her Regio­nal Court found that such a duty may exist if the­re is a spe­cial trust-based rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween the manu­fac­tu­rer and the cus­to­mer (good faith, § 242 of the Civil Code). Howe­ver, such a rela­ti­ons­hip can only be assu­med if the­re are spe­ci­fic cir­cum­s­tan­ces which sup­port the view that the rela­ti­ons­hip is cha­rac­te­ri­zed by extra­or­di­na­ry trust. The Hig­her Regio­nal Court of Frank­furt ruled that the case pre­sen­ted by the end cus­to­mer who was the plain­tiff in that case, who sim­ply argued that the manu­fac­tu­rer has an inte­rest in ensu­ring that ori­gi­nal parts are instal­led in its vehi­cles, was ulti­mate­ly not enough to estab­lish such a gene­ral duty. 

Prac­ti­cal tip

In B2B rela­ti­ons­hips, it is advi­s­able to reach a con­trac­tu­al arran­ge­ment defi­ning a fixed peri­od for the sup­ply of spa­re parts so that all par­ties can be assu­red of plan­ning cer­tain­ty. If spa­re parts are avail­ab­le for many years, this will have a posi­ti­ve impact on cus­to­mer satis­fac­tion as well as kee­ping cus­to­mers from buy­ing third-party accessories.

back

Stay up-to-date

We use your e-mail address exclusively for sending our newsletter. You have the right to revoke your consent at any time with effect for the future. For further information, please refer to our privacy policy.