General Civil Code

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Basic data
Title: General Civil Code
Long title: General civil code for the entire German hereditary countries of the Austrian monarchy
Abbreviation: ABGB
Type: Federal law
Scope: Republic of Austria
Legal matter: civil right
Reference: JGS No. 946/1811 in ALEX
Date of law: June 1, 1811
Effective date: January 1, 1812
Last change: BGBl. I No. 16/2020
Legal text: ABGB as amended in the RIS
Please note the note on the applicable legal version !
Title page of the ABGB edition from 1811, exhibited in the Army History Museum in Vienna

The General Civil Code ( ABGB ) is the most important codification of civil law in Austria that came into force in the "German hereditary countries" of the Austrian Empire in 1812 and is still in force today , making it the oldest valid code of law in the German legal system . It is called "general" because it applies uniformly and bindingly to all persons in its area of ​​application, in contrast to common law . " Civil law " means according to § 1 ABGB that the ABGB regulates the "private rights and duties of the residents of the state among themselves".


The preparatory work for a codification of Austrian civil law began in the middle of the 18th century with the Codex Theresianus and the Josephine Code of Law . Actual precursor of the General Civil Code was that of Karl Anton von Martini created Westgalizische Code , which in the recently annexed by the Habsburg monarchy in 1797 West Galicia was set a trial basis in force and soon as Ostgalizisches Code for East Galicia was published.

Franz von Zeiller , a student of martinis, is considered to be the creator of this body of law. The ABGB was announced as an imperial patent (law) on June 1, 1811 and came into force on January 1, 1812 in the German hereditary countries of the Austrian monarchy . The extension of the scope to the entire Habsburg monarchy , especially to Hungary, remained an episode (1852–1861). From 1861 until the end of the First World War , the ABGB was valid in the part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy called Cisleithanien .

The collapse of the monarchy had no immediate effects on the scope of the ABGB; it initially remained unchanged in the successor states, and in some cases the territorial scope was even expanded, in particular in 1922 to the then Hungarian Burgenland , which came to the Republic of Austria that year (but not to Slovakia, where Hungarian civil law remained in force). Only the statutes of socialist Czechoslovakia (1951) and Poland (1965) ended the validity of the ABGB there, so that it is only valid in the Republic of Austria (as well as in the Principality of Liechtenstein ) today; in Croatia it is still a subsidiary legal source today.

In the first hundred years there was hardly any intervention in the text of the ABGB, only the three partial amendments to the ABGB from 1914, 1915 and 1916 brought major changes in certain areas, also with regard to the German Civil Code of 1896 the seventies (especially in family law; for example, incapacitation was replaced there in 1984 by the right of guardianship ).

The 2015 Inheritance Law Amendment Act came into force on January 1, 2017. This reform of inheritance law brought some changes in terminology and several changes in content.

Classification of the ABGB

The division follows the institutional system . However, Austrian jurisprudence teaches civil law according to the pandemic system . Some parts of Austrian private law are now regulated in separate laws outside the ABGB, for example in the marriage law , tenancy law or consumer protection law . Nevertheless, the ABGB is still the important basis of the civil law system in Austria and thus, alongside the French Civil Code, it is the second oldest civil law code in force that is shaped by rational law.

The ABGB is divided into three parts according to the institutional system as follows . The ABGB is divided into personae (family and personal law), res (property law, including inheritance and obligations law) and a third part, which contains common provisions.

Basic structure of the ABGB

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  • Preamble / promulgation clause
  • Introduction: Of the civil laws in general ( general part )
  • Regulations in three parts:
    1. Part: Of the personal rights. (Personal law, see general part ; family law )
      1. Main part: Of the rights that relate to personal characteristics and circumstances.
      2. Main part: Of the marriage rights.
      3. Main part: rights between parents and children.
      4. Main part: From the custody of another person.
      5. Main part: child support.
      6. Main part: From the guardianship, the other legal representation and the power of attorney.
    2. Part: Of the property rights. ( Property law ; inheritance law ; law of obligations )
      1. Department: Of the rights in rem.
        1. Main part: From the possession.
        2. Main part: Of the property rights.
        3. Main part: On the acquisition of property through appropriation.
        4. Main part: Acquisition of property through growth.
        5. Main part: Acquisition of property through delivery.
        6. Main part: Of the liens.
        7. Main part: Of easements (servitutes).
        8. Main part: Of inheritance law in general.
        9. Main part: Willed Succession.
        10. Main part: Of the replacement and subsequent inheritance.
        11. Main part: Legacies.
        12. Main part: On the restriction and abolition of the last will.
        13. Main part: From the legal succession.
        14. Main part: From the compulsory part and offsetting against the compulsory part.
        15. Main part: acquisition of an inheritance.
        16. Main part: On the community of property and other rights in rem.
      2. Department: Of personal rights.
        1. Main part: Of contracts and legal transactions in general.
        2. Main part: From donations.
        3. Main part: From the safekeeping contract.
        4. Main part: From the loan agreement.
        5. Main part: From the loan agreement.
        6. Main part: of the authorization and other types of management.
        7. Main part: From the exchange contract.
        8. Main part: From the sales contract.
        9. Main part: From existing lease and hereditary interest contracts.
        10. Main part: From contracts to services
        11. Main part: Of the civil society
        12. Main part: From the marriage pacts and the right to equipment
        13. Main part: From the happiness contracts.
        14. Main part: On the right to compensation and satisfaction.
    3. Part: Of the common provisions of personal and property rights. (see general part )
      1. Main part: From the fixing of rights and liabilities.
      2. Main part: On the change in rights and obligations.
      3. Main part: On the cancellation of rights and obligations.
      4. Main part: Of the statute of limitations and prescription.
      5. Main part: Entry into force and transitional provisions.

Legal text

The current legal text of the ABGB (and the entire applicable Austrian federal law) can be found in the legal information system of the Republic of Austria (see web links ) of the Federal Chancellery . Insofar as the text comes from the original version, it is also reproduced according to the spelling of the time.

Particularly with the provisions from the original version, it is important to observe the historical usage in the interpretation (e.g. "Satisfaction" = compensation).

Comments on the ABGB come and have been of great importance. Franz von Zeiller himself wrote the first comment on the ABGB . Furthermore, the comments by Moritz von Stubenrauch, Heinrich Klang , Michael Schwimann and Rummel should be mentioned, who at all times had a great influence on Austrian civil law .


The Civil Code has been widely rezipiert , for that. B. in Liechtenstein ( FL-ABGB ), Turkey (which, however, took over the Swiss Civil Code and the Code of Obligations under Ataturk ), Czechoslovakia , Serbia , Bosnia , Slovenia , Croatia and Romania .


Private law history of the ABGB


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Federal Law Gazette for the Republic of Austria . Federal Chancellery. July 30, 2015. Accessed January 22, 2019.