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Expenditure is a legal term that occurs in many areas of law and describes the voluntary forfeiture of assets, including the assumption of liabilities in the interest of another legal entity .


An involuntary loss of assets is called damage , but legally it does not constitute an expense. This distinction goes back to Andreas von Tuhr , when in 1895 he viewed the damage as a financial disadvantage, "which someone has suffered without his own involvement and against his will, recourse is taken for a disadvantage that one has inflicted voluntarily in the interests of another". The voluntary nature of an expenditure is also preserved if there is a legal obligation to carry out the expenditure .

In accounting law , commercial law and accounting expenses also occurs. What is meant here, however, is the related word effort , the plural of which means effort; mostly, however, expenditure is used as the plural and this creates an unfounded proximity to the legal term.


The terms expenditure and effort have both a different conceptual history and different conceptual contents . While the first edition of the Brothers Grimm's German dictionary from 1854 did not contain the word expenditure , the word expenditure indicated that Kaspar Stieler 1691 did not contain it, the second edition provides a source as the first evidence of expenditure 1542 at. Expenditure appeared for the first time in the year 1726 in the Graeflich-Leiningen-Grünstadtischen Successions- und Teilungsverordnung , the word expenditure only appeared in 1738 in a legal dictionary.

The General Prussian Land Law (APL) of June 1794 decided on expenditure: “The power giver [client, d. Author.] Must compensate the authorized representative for all expenses made in the business, insofar as the same was necessary and useful ”(I 13, § 65 APL). The Austrian ABGB of January 1811 also preferred the term expense. The expenditure prevailed later when it was adopted by the Swiss Code of Obligations in June 1881 and the BGB in January 1900.

Legal issues

After § 284 BGB can creditors at a power failure instead of damages in lieu of performance demand reimbursement of the expenses which he has made in reliance upon the receipt of the service and could make reasonably. This reimbursement of expenses is limited, so that not all expenses are reimbursable. "If a buyer has made expenditures to obtain the consideration , his damage is measured according to the loss of assets he suffers from the fact that expenditures can no longer be reversed and turn out to be useless".

The seller , pursuant to § 439 para. 2 BGB in a purchase agreement for purposes of subsequent performance necessary expenses, in particular transport , way , labor and material costs to bear. The landlord has to reimburse expenses that the tenant has to make as a result of a maintenance measure to a reasonable extent ( Section 556a (3) BGB). If the contractor makes expenses for the purpose of executing the order which he may consider necessary under the circumstances, the client is obliged to pay compensation in accordance with § 670 BGB. Certain functions can demand reimbursement of expenses, such as the custodian ( Section 693 BGB), the finder ( Section 970 BGB), the guardian ( Section 1835 Paragraph 1 BGB) or the commission agent ( Section 396 Paragraph 2 HGB ). From § 256 BGB, the debtor is obliged to pay interest if he has to pay reimbursement of expenses.

In the case of “major average” according to Section 588 (1) of the German Commercial Code ( HGB) , the term “expenses” is used when the ship's crew makes voluntary sacrifices to avert a present or impending danger on the orders of the captain . Here, too, the legal concept of expenditure is meant.


Expenditure and effort have different conceptual contents. The Business Administration speaks mainly of the expense, its grammatical plural effort is. However, this is not applied consistently, so that most of the talk is of expenditure (the plural of the legal term expenditure). Also the commercial and accounting law is here not consistently before, because § 246 HGB speaks of "income and expenses", the outline provisions of § 275 para. 2 HGB, however, of " material expenses " and " personnel expenses . 2 no" (§ 275 para. 5 and 6 HGB); In contrast, Section 275 (2) No. 8 HGB refers to “other operating expenses”.


In Switzerland , the talk is of expenses for example when competition ( Art. 8 , para. 2 OR ), additional costs in residential and business premises ( Art. 257b OR), maintenance at Foreign of work of a worker ( Art. 327a OR) or the reimbursement of expenses of Brokers ( Art. 413 OR).

Austria speaks of expenses for the client ( § 1014 ABGB ), for the agency ( § 1036 ABGB) or the reimbursement of expenses by others ( § 1042 ABGB).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Andreas von Tuhr, Actio de in rem verso , 1895/1970, p. 34
  2. Claudia Bittner, in: Julius von Staudinger's Commentary on the BGB , 2009, § 256 Rn. 5
  3. ^ Brothers Grimm, German Dictionary , 1854
  4. Kaspar Stieler, Der Teutschen Sprache Genealogy and Fortwachs , 1691
  5. ^ Brothers Grimm, German Dictionary , Volume III, 1860, Col. 841
  6. Ulrike Köbler, Werden, Wandel und Wesen des German private law vocabulary , 2010, p. 284
  7. Thomas Hayme, General Teutsches Juristisches Lexicon , 1738, p. 23
  8. ^ Christian Friedrich Koch, General Land Law for the Prussian States , Volume 1, Issue 2, 1870, p. 142
  9. Gerrit Hölzle, Verstrickung durch Disinformation , 2012, p. 556
  10. BGHZ 57, 78 , 80
  11. Michael Fuchs, The question of the insurability of ransom in piracy cases , 2014, p. 100 f.