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Under grace ( Latin ex gratia , "grace") refers to the voluntary concessions between contracting parties in the course of business , without the need for a special legal obligation exists.


The word goodwill comes from the French coulant , (“compliant”, “accommodating”, “making no problems as a businessman”). It appeared in the German-speaking area for the first time in 1813 in the dictionary of the linguist Johann Heinrich Campe , who still translated it as "fluent" for a type of writing. A German foreign dictionary translated it in 1841 as “fluent, pleasing”. In 1844 it appeared in a merchant's dictionary. From 1910 the German spelling changed to “koulant”, from 1951 to today's “accommodating”.

Importance in everyday life

Purchase contract

Goodwill is not a legal term because it is not part of the statutory contractual obligations. The contractual partners are only legally obliged to fulfill their contractual obligations and may exercise their contractual rights. For example, it follows from the sales contract that the seller of an item is obliged under Section 433 (1) BGB to hand over the item to the buyer and to provide ownership of the item. The seller must provide the buyer with the item free from material and legal defects . The buyer, in turn, is obliged to pay the seller the agreed purchase price and to accept the purchased item according to Section 433 (2) BGB .

If at least one of the contractual partners now requests a special service from the other outside of these contractual obligations, he can only achieve this by way of goodwill. This includes the exchange of goods that are free of defects (e.g. in a different color), which is not provided for by law and can therefore be carried out by the seller for reasons of goodwill. The desire of the buyer based on any legal claim, the concession does not constitute a legal obligation. The withdrawal of a defect-free goods because of buyer's remorse the client (the client regretted the purchase) is a case of goodwill. If the warranty period has expired, the customer normally has no more claims; if the entrepreneur nevertheless carries out a repair free of charge , there is goodwill. The acceptance of early repayment of bank balances or loans not yet due is also not a legal obligation for credit institutions . If it is nevertheless permitted, this is done for reasons of goodwill. If due claims (including loans) are deferred by the lender or if the creditors hold still, this can also be seen as goodwill.

Mail order

In the mail order business , the consumer is no longer dependent on goodwill. Consumers have at distance contracts a Withdrawal according to § 312g para. 1 BGB, wherein the withdrawal period as a cut-off period 14 days is ( § 355 , para. 2 BGB). The revocation must be clearly explained before the return (§ 355 Paragraph 1 BGB), which can be done by e-mail , fax or letter ( § 356 Paragraph 1 BGB). According to Section 357 (3) BGB, the seller must repay the purchase price within 14 days using the same means of payment that the buyer used for payment . According to Section 357, Paragraph 6 of the German Civil Code, the consumer bears the direct shipping costs for returning the goods if the entrepreneur has informed the consumer of this obligation. The entrepreneur can also agree to assume these costs (Section 357 (6) sentence 2 BGB). The consumer must also pay compensation for a loss in value of the goods if the loss in value is due to a handling of the goods that was not necessary to check the condition, properties and functionality of the goods and the entrepreneur informs the consumer of his right of withdrawal has (§ 357 Paragraph 7 BGB). According to § 312g Paragraph 2 No. 1-13 BGB, there is no return option, in particular for goods individually manufactured according to customer orders , perishable goods with a short expiry date , hygiene articles with the seal removed after delivery or sound carriers (including software ) with the seal removed, etc. a. However, since this list is exhaustive , motives not listed for the return, such as purchase regret (the buyer does not need the goods) or the legally irrelevant motive error to return, entitle .


In insurance , the goodwill payment is an accommodating service by the insurer to the policyholder , in particular in connection with claims settlement . The policyholder's claim for damage is usually based on the reason, only the amount is in dispute. Since there is generally a legal obligation to pay, it is not a goodwill gesture in the narrower sense.


The waiver of goodwill is not a chicane , because the seller does not exercise any right to damage the buyer. Goodwill can promote customer loyalty , so that trading companies are usually willing to accept goodwill when exchanging. This enables them to stabilize the business relationship with the customer and possibly turn walk-in customers into regular customers . In the case of goodwill, major customers have priority over walk-in customers, regular customers are preferred over casual customers. In accounting , the goodwill usually leads to no costs as long as the goods taken back can still be sold as new and do not have to be repaired.

Web links

Wiktionary: Goodwill  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ursula Hermann, Knaurs etymologisches Lexikon , 1989, p. 281
  2. Johann Heinrich Campe, Dictionary for the Explanation and Germanization of the Foreign Words that Impeded Our Language , 1813, p. 233
  3. ^ Johann C. Schweizer, Foreign Dictionary: explaining foreign words and idioms , 1841, p. 128
  4. ^ Ludolph Schleier, Contor-Lexicon for German merchants , 1844, p. 141
  5. Thomas Mann / Eckhard Heftrich / Stephan Stachorski / Thomas Sprecher, Large commented on the Frankfurt edition: 2nd Buddenbrooks Commentary , 2002, p. 237, FN 19
  6. Peter Derleder / Kai-Oliver Knops / Heinz Georg Bamberger (eds.), Handbook on German and European Banking Law , 2009, p. 1194
  7. Peter Koch, Gabler Versicherungs-Lexikon , 1994, p. 504