Fri, Aug. 04, 2006

State Liable for Template?

CK - Washington.   The German civil code provides consumers with a right of revocation of mail orders. Vendors must properly notify consumers of their eligibility to exercize that right and the procedures therefor. The revocation is subject to time limits expressed in §355 Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB. The deadline does not begin to run when the vendor's notification does not meet the statutory requirements.

A regulation published by the Berlin Department of Justice, Schedule 2 to §14 BGB-InvoVO, contains a template to help vendors comply with the law. The Berlin Blawg alerts mailorder vendors to a Halle District Court ruling which finds the template to contain so many mistakes that its terms may not be enforced--with the result that the cut-off dates never become effective. As a result, consumers may rescind mailorder transactions long after vendors believed they were off the hook.

Since the government-provided template has long been considered defective and the Halle court sets a precedent for its wholesale invalidation, Berlin Blawg wonders whether vendors may turn to the government for compensation where their reliance on the template caused the unanticipated rescission of consumer contracts long after the expiration of deadlines set in good faith.

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