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A claim is generally understood to be a request , an instruction , an instruction or, as a legal term, the claim of a creditor against the debtor for performance .


The word requirement developed from the Old High German "fordarunga" ("privilege"), which first appeared in 812, via the Middle High German "forderunge" ("desire, claim, complaint"), which appeared for the first time in 1224. Making a demand today means wanting to pursue certain goals with vigor (for example, the unions in wage demands in collective bargaining or political demands of the yellow vests movement ). With these demands it is uncertain whether they will be taken seriously or taken up by the opponent. According to the Brothers Grimm's German Dictionary, there are cheap, just or outrageous demands. The word requirement had different etymological meanings, which is still the case today. Most often, however, the claim is associated with the obligee's right to demand the promised performance from the debtor. The demand is therefore primarily a legal term and economic object , which is correspondingly opposed to the obligation .


The Roman law saw the demand from the perspective of the debtor as a commitment to ( latin obligatio ). In the 2nd century Herennius Modestinus defined the debtor ( Latin debitor ) as someone from whom money can be demanded even against his will. Claims had to be enforceable, whereby the action had to be aimed at giving ( Latin dare ), doing ( Latin facere ) or guaranteeing ( Latin praestare ). In addition to the offense, the reason for a right to claim was the contract ( Latin contractus ). Here was the purchase agreement ( Latin emptio venditio ) that the obligation of the seller corresponding claim right of the buyer ( Latin actio empti ) of the seller (corresponding obligation Latin actio venditi ) opposite. The claim expired through fulfillment ( Latin solutio ), i.e. effecting the owed performance to the creditor, but also through the unification of debt and claim in one hand ( Latin confusio ) or by offsetting ( Latin compensatio ).

According to the General Prussian Land Law (APL) of June 1794, a claim had to be suitable for trading books (II 8, § 611 APL), claims arising from a current account were interest-bearing (II 8, § 697 APL). The latter regulation was adopted in May 1861, Art. 291 ADHGB . A businessman standing under Article 241, Section 1 ADHGB against another merchant because of overdue payments a.. Right of retention on all movable property of the debtor to; from this the current entrepreneur 's lien developed . In January 1900, the BGB adopted the requirement as a legal term.

Legal issues

Claims belong to the subjective rights like property or liens . The claim (also "payment claim", "money claim") is a type of claim in civil law , i.e. the right to demand a service from another. The right of claims characterizes the debt relationship between creditor and debtor from the perspective of the creditor. The debtor power to which the call is directed right of the creditor, can according to § 241 sentence 2 BGB both a Tun , toleration and in a failure to exist. The right to demand action, toleration or omission from another is part of the generic term of the claim from § 194 BGB. Claims are based on a legal relationship between the persons involved, which can either be wanted by them ( contract ) or stipulated by law ( legal obligation ). Claims are therefore, for example, the claim of the seller on the purchase price payment against the customer from the sales contract or the claim of the victim on payment of damages against the initiator. Even public relations may be subject to claims, for. B. Tax claims , fines or reclaiming wrongly received social benefits .

Even to real rights , family rights and inheritance rights create entitlements, but does not need; on the other hand, the obligation cannot arise without a claim to benefits. Monetary claims as the most important type exist when a performance by the debtor has been legally effective through a contract but is not yet due . In the case of a sales contract , for example, a claim arises if either the buyer does not have to or cannot pay the purchase price immediately ( supplier credit due to payment term ) and / or the seller does not need to deliver the goods until a later point in time after the conclusion of the contract ( customer credit due to delivery period ).

The requirement is a legal property and intangible asset , by assignment transferable (is § 398 ff BGB exception.: Highly personal and unpfändbare claims), by pledging as collateral can be used ( § 1279 BGB), through usufruct used ( § 1074 BGB) or can be seized by seizure ( Section 829 ZPO ; exception: highly personal and non-attachable claims). In a few cases, the law even provides for an automatic transfer of claims ( legal session ; e.g. Section 401 BGB). Claims are subject to the statute of limitations ( Section 196 Paragraph 1 BGB). If the function of the creditor and the debtor meet in one person, the claim is deemed to have expired due to confusion . Similar claims also expire if they against each netted be ( § 387 BGB).

Receivables can be bought commercially as forfaiting or sold by factoring , they can also be securitized (e.g. as a bond , asset-backed security or promissory note ). The creditor ( creditor ) has a credit risk with receivables , which expresses itself as a dubious claim or can even lead to loss of receivables . This is the main risk for the creditor in the case of a bankrupt debtor. Claims are therefore the core object of the Insolvency Code (InsO), which expects the insolvency creditors to make a justified claim to assets in accordance with Section 38 InsO. Claims that are not due are considered to be due ( Section 41 InsO), claims conditional as dissolving as unconditional ( Section 42 InsO). The insolvency creditors must register their claims in writing with the insolvency administrator ( Section 174 (1) InsO), the list of claims results from Section 152 InsO.

Claims can also have ancillary rights . The law understands this to mean security interests such as sureties , mortgages , ship mortgages or pledges , which according to Section 401 of the German Civil Code (BGB) are automatically transferred to the new creditor in the event of an assignment. The law aims to subrogation ( § 412 BGB) only for this accessory ancillary rights, but there are also non-accessory ancillary rights as guaranteed , mortgage , land charge or security assignment that must be assigned separately, even if the assignor to the legal concept of § 401 BGB in case of doubt, is legally obliged to transfer non-ancillary rights.

Business administration

Monetary claims result from a contract in which the debtor has undertaken to pay a certain amount of money to the obligee after a certain period or the end of the term when due . Receivables are part of the assets of a balance sheet as an asset . The legislature has attached such great importance to the claims that it has assigned them a separate balance sheet item for reasons of balance sheet clarity . According to § 266 Paragraph 2 lit. B II HGB as trade receivables , receivables from affiliated companies , receivables from companies with a shareholding or other assets in the current assets of the annual financial statements . The term debtors is to accounts receivable for goods and services is limited. Receivables can be divided into short-term (<1 year), medium-term (> 1 year <5 years) or long-term (<5 years) according to their term or due date. In the case of credit institutions, receivables and liabilities are to be classified according to their maturity in accordance with Section 340d HGB in the appendix .

Claims arise in particular from a delivery or service in which the risk has passed to the buyer and the buyer has not paid directly. The reason for the non-immediate payment can be an agreed target sale, but also a delay in payment . For most companies, these receivables form the most important or essential item of current assets on the balance sheet. A receivables management should ensure that the unpaid deliveries are monitored with regard to the creditworthiness of the buyer and the due date. This del credere risk is the risk that customers will pay too late, not at all or not in full, or even become insolvent . It can be reduced or eliminated by delivery under retention of title or by a del credere insurance . The retention of title is an original credit security that the supplier agrees with the buyer and, if the claim is not paid, the supplier can demand the delivered goods from the buyer. Claims can be deferred by the obligee or he can waive his claim entirely in a waiver agreement . If the del credere risk materializes, the intact claims are transformed into dubious claims.


The claim is a payment or other performance claim against a debtor that arises from the law or from a contract (§ 241 BGB). A receivable from a contract must be capitalized in the balance sheet if it has been paid to the customer and the consideration has not yet been paid . Receivables are an asset item on the balance sheet and belong to current assets (according to HGB) or short-term assets (according to IAS / IFRS ). The receivables within the current assets include:

  • Requests from deliveries and services,
  • Other financial assets,
  • Other non-financial assets.

The basis for accounting for receivables in IFRS are IAS 39 ( Financial Instruments : Recognition and Measurement), IAS 32 (Financial Instruments: Presentation), IFRS 7 (Financial Instruments: Disclosures), and F49a, F53 - F59, F89 - 90.

Differences to the legal regulation at national level can be identified in particular in the assessment of claims. According to the German Commercial Code, the option known from IFRS of valuing receivables and loans at fair value does not apply . In accordance with the German Commercial Code (HGB), receivables and loans are generally recognized at the amount to be repaid, unless they are to be devalued to the lower fair value due to the principle of prudence .


A claim is any contractual claim to receive cash or other financial assets from the debtor. Receivables are financial assets and count among the financial instruments. An asset is a resource that is in the company's control due to events in the past and that is expected to provide the company with future economic benefits. A financial instrument is a contract that leads to a financial asset for one company and a financial liability or equity instrument for the other. Common examples of financial instruments include securities and receivables.

Fair value is the value at which an asset can be exchanged between knowledgeable, willing and independent business partners or an obligation can be settled. It is determined according to the following hierarchy:

  • 1st level: Quoted market prices in an active market,
  • 2nd level: comparative transactions if there is no active market and comparability can be proven,
  • 3rd level: valuation techniques based on generally recognized procedures and largely based on observable market data .

An asset is classified as current if it meets at least one of the following criteria:

a) its realization is expected within the normal course of the company's business cycle or it is held for sale or consumption within this period;
b) it is held primarily for trading purposes;
c) its realization is expected within twelve months after the balance sheet date ; or
d) it is cash or cash equivalents, unless the exchange or use of the asset to fulfill an obligation is restricted for a period of at least 12 months after the balance sheet date.

All other assets are classified as long-term.

Approach and categorization

According to the definition above, trade receivables are only to be capitalized when sales have been realized, i.e. the product must have been delivered or the service provided to the customer. In the case of deliveries, a claim must only be activated once invoicing has taken place and the risk has passed to the buyer.

By assigning all financial instruments to one of the following categories in the context of initial recognition, it is determined how the respective financial assets are to be recognized and valued in the balance sheet.

  • Assets held for trading ( english held for trade ) or
  • and held for maturity investments ( English held to maturity ) or
  • for -sale financial assets ( English available for sale ) or
  • Loans and receivables ( english loans and receivables ).

Claims belong to the last category.

Valuation principles

This at the fair is on initial recognition of a financial asset value ( english fair value ), including the transaction costs to be assessed. Bonuses ( English trade discounts ), discounts ( English cash discounts ) and individual value adjustments are to be deducted from the fair value. Value adjustments are always to be deducted as assets. Subsequent measurement is done at amortized cost ( english amortized costs ).

For reasons of materiality, claims are not discounted if they are due within one year. In the case of receivables that do not fall due within one year, the amortized cost must be determined using the effective interest method, unless a separate agreement has been made with the customer on the calculation of market interest rates. If an interest rate agreement is below the market interest rate, the difference between the market interest rate and the interest rate agreed with the customer must be used as the basis for determining the discount amount.

According to IFRS, receivables must be valued individually; the formation of general bad debt allowances to cover the general credit risk is therefore not permitted. However, so-called flat-rate individual value adjustments are permitted, whereby individual value adjustments generally have priority. In accordance with IAS 39, AG 87, flat-rate individual value adjustments are to be carried out on the basis of a grouping of the receivables according to the creditworthiness assessments of the respective debtors. As soon as specific information is available about an individual need for a specific bad debt allowance within a group of receivables, this receivable must be separated from the group and the corresponding impairment reported as an individual bad debt allowance. An allowance for bad debts is mandatory if the amount of the allowance can be determined with sufficient accuracy and the event that caused the write-down is likely to occur.

Individual value adjustments are to be made due to disputed claims ( deficiency or alleged deficiency on the part of the supplier) and due to del credere (known or assumed credit risks on the part of the customer).

A receivable must be written off the balance sheet if the company loses the right to the benefits set out in the contract, if the rights expire, or if the company loses control of the contractual rights of the financial instrument. Capital gains and losses are to be recognized in the income statement. The profit on the sale is the difference between the proceeds and the book value of the financial instrument.

A set-off of receivables and payables is not permitted even with identity of the debtor and creditor and approximately the same maturity ( netting ).

Balance sheet and explanation

The balance sheet must include:

  • financial assets,
  • Trade receivables and other receivables,
  • Tax refund claims,
  • deferred tax assets.

Short-term and long-term assets are to be presented as separate classification groups in the balance sheet, unless a presentation based on liquidity is reliable and more relevant.

The disclosure requirements under IFRS 7 include information on the significance of the financial instruments and information on the type and extent of the risks associated with the financial instruments at the level of the individual classes of similar financial instruments.

The following must be stated in detail in the balance sheet and annex:

  • Financial receivables and financial liabilities at fair value through write-downs or write-ups, each with initial and subsequent valuation,
  • Held to Maturity (HtM) investments,
  • Loans received and granted,
  • Financial instruments available for sale (AfS) and
  • Financial liabilities that are valued “at amortized cost”.

Reclassifications (IFRS 7.12) as well as write-offs (IFRS 7.13) must be disclosed.


The economic term of demands is much broader than the economic and related legal term. Claims are one of the nominal goods , which include any type of claim such as creditors , securities ( stocks and bonds ), balances or money and money substitutes . So if non-banks have cash , then this represents a claim against the central bank . Every claim of an economic subject corresponds to an equal liability of another economic subject and vice versa. That is why claims and liabilities can be dispensed with in the balance sheet of a closed economy .


In Austria, company assets include property dedicated to the company, other company-related property rights, company-related contractual relationships, claims and liabilities and company-related intellectual property rights as well as the benefits obtained from them, the fruits obtained from them and everything else, in accordance with Section 1178 (1) ABGB in Austria Place of existing assets.

In Switzerland owe money are under Art. 84 para. 1 OR in legal tender owed currency to pay. If a claim is lost as a result of its fulfillment or in some other way, all of its ancillary rights, such as guarantees and liens in particular, expire ( Art. 114 OR). The waiver of claims is regulated as a repeal in Art. 115 OR, the confusion as an association in Art. 118 Para. 1 OR and the offsetting as offsetting in Art. 120 Para. 1 OR.

Web links

Wikiquote: Demand  - Quotes
Wiktionary: requirement  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Literature on demand in the catalog of the German National Library

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Köbler , Etymological Legal Dictionary , 1995, p. 133
  2. ^ Jacob Grimm / Wilhelm Grimm, German Dictionary , Volume 3, 1862, Sp. 1895 f.
  3. Ulrike Köbler, Werden, Wandel und Wesen des German private law vocabulary , 2010, p. 208
  4. Herennius Modestinus, Digesten , 50, 16, 108
  5. Herbert Hausmaninger / Walter Selb, Römisches Privatrecht , 2001, p. 193
  6. Herennius Modestinus, Digesten , 46, 3, 75
  7. Heinrich Titze, Civil Law of Obligations , 1926, p. 1
  8. BGH NJW 1985, 613 , 615
  9. Wolfgang Lück, Claims , in: ders. (Ed.), Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft, 1983, p. 395
  10. ^ Alfred Stobbe, Volkswirtschaftslehre I: Volkswirtschaftliches Accounting , 1980, p. 12
  11. Werner Ehrlicher (Ed.), Kompendium der Volkswirtschaftslehre , Volume 1, 1975, p. 18
  12. ^ Dieter Dahl, Volkswirtschaftslehre , 2013, p. 238