Germany Contract Law: Understanding the Legal Framework for Business Transactions

Germany has a robust and comprehensive legal framework for contract law that governs business transactions in the country. The German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch or BGB) is the primary legislation that sets out the legal requirements for forming and executing contracts in Germany. This article provides an overview of Germany`s contract law and some of the key legal principles that foreign businesses should be aware of when conducting business in Germany.

Contract Formation

In Germany, a contract is formed when two parties agree to the terms and conditions of the agreement. The offer and acceptance are key elements in forming a contract, and parties must have a mutual understanding of the essential elements of the contract. In addition to offer and acceptance, a contract must have a consideration (Gegenleistung), which refers to the exchange of something of value between the parties.

One unique aspect of contract formation in Germany is that it is governed by the principle of “Gesetzliche Grundlage” (legal basis). This means that the terms of a contract must be based on a legal foundation, such as a law or a court ruling. Contracts that violate legal principles or go against public policy may be considered null and void.

Implied Terms

German law recognizes the concept of “implied terms,” which means that certain terms may be included in a contract even if they are not explicitly stated. Implied terms can be based on custom and usage, previous dealings between the parties, or the general nature of the contract.

Implied terms are particularly important in Germany`s commercial law, where standard terms and conditions (AGB) are commonly used in business transactions. These terms are often pre-drafted and included in contracts without negotiation. To ensure the enforceability of these terms, they must be clear, concise, and not unfair to one party.

Performance and Breach

In Germany, there is a general duty for parties to perform their contractual obligations in good faith (Treu und Glauben). This includes a duty to cooperate and provide information necessary for the performance of the contract.

If one party fails to perform their obligations under the contract, this is considered a breach of contract. Remedies for a breach of contract in Germany include damages, specific performance, and termination of the contract.

Limitation of Liability and Exclusion of Warranty

Parties may include limitations of liability and exclusion of warranty clauses in their contracts. However, these clauses must comply with German law, and courts may invalidate them if they are considered unfair or unreasonable.

A limitation of liability clause may limit the amount of damages that one party can claim in the event of a breach of contract. An exclusion of warranty clause may exclude certain types of defects or damages from being covered by the warranty.


Germany`s contract law is complex and may differ from the legal framework in other countries. Foreign businesses entering into contracts in Germany should seek the advice of legal professionals to ensure that their contracts comply with German law and are enforceable in the event of a dispute.

Overall, German contract law provides a comprehensive legal framework for business transactions in the country. The principles of good faith, implied terms, and limitations of liability and exclusion of warranty are important legal concepts that businesses should be aware of when conducting business in Germany.