Termination of online contracts by electronic means: is this legally accepted in Germany?
In its ruling of 29 April 2021, the Regional Court of Hamburg declared a clause providing for electronic communication only to be invalid.
According to the case, a consumer advice centre had criticised the general terms and conditions clause of an online shop according to which the shop limited communication with customers exclusively to electronic communication; this could mean that, for example, a notice of termination issued by the customer and sent by registered letter with advice of receipt would not comply with the contractually agreed form and would therefore be invalid. The wording of the clause at issue in the legal dispute before the Hamburg Regional Court:
According to the Hamburg Regional Court, this clause contradicts the requirement in Section 307 (1) no. 2 of the German Civil Code (BGB), stating that clauses in general terms and conditions must be formulated in a clear and comprehensible manner.
Online does not mean completely freedom and laws and regulations must apply, just like in our offline real world.
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