Legal relationship

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A legal relationship (or legal relationship) is the relationship of at least two legal subjects to one another or the relationship of a legal subject to a legal object , insofar as this is based on legal issues . A legal relationship is to be assumed within a legal system if the relationship in question is legally regulated.


The legal relationship thus affects people with one another (for example in family , company , commercial or obligation law ) or the relationship between people and things (especially in property law or partly in inheritance law ).

The legal concept of the legal relationship is therefore broader than that of the contractual relationship , because it also includes the relationship of ownership of a thing or the inheritance of a thing as well as the family law relationships of two legal subjects. Conversely, every contractual relationship is also a legal relationship; the legal transactions of the law of obligations ultimately lead to specially designed legal relationships of the persons involved.

The subjective rights of private and public law can be derived from a legal relationship . The existence or non-existence of a legal relationship can be judicially determined with the help of a declaratory action .


Depending on the type of legal relationship, specific terms are used for this, e.g. B .:

  • Owner-owner relationship , a legal obligation between the owner and the illegitimate owner of something
  • Conditional relationship (also enrichment relationship), a legal obligation between the illegally enriched and the deprived
  • GoA relationship , a legal obligation between the managing director without a mandate and the principal
  • Maintenance relationship, a legal obligation between the dependent and the person liable for maintenance
  • Dominance , a legal relationship between a legal subject and a legal object

This specified relationship does not necessarily include the entire existing legal relationship, but only refers to that part of the entire relationship, insofar as it is of the specified type.


The Marxist Eugen Paschukanis described the whole of society as an "infinite chain of legal relationships". For the lawyer Gustav Radbruch in 1903 the correlation between law and duty was the abstract legal relation. A legal relationship of the lowest order is for example the right of the seller to the purchase price with the obligation of the buyer to pay it. The buyer's right to the goods and the seller's obligation to deliver complete these legal relationships of the lowest order to the composite legal relationship of the purchase contract . For Otto Bachof , the legal relationship was considered a legal institution that deserved more than any other to take a central position in administrative law . A legal relationship brings people and things to people into a legal relationship. According to Norbert Achterberg , the significance of the legal norm for the legal relationship is shown in its limitation to one or a group of such; If legal norms are only relevant for a specific legal relationship - for example the provisions on the sales contract for the legal relationship between the contracting parties that is presented as such in the event of a lack of third-party effect, they are of a monovalent nature.

Individual evidence

  1. Carl Creifelds , Creifelds Legal Dictionary , 2000, p. 1079
  2. ^ Eugen Paschukanis, Allgemeine Rechtslehre und Marxismus , 1924, p. 60
  3. Gustav Radbruch, The concept of action in its meaning for the criminal law system , 1903, p. 33 f.
  4. Gustav Radbruch, The concept of action in its meaning for the criminal justice system , 1903, p. 51
  5. Otto Bachof, Basic Rights in the Benefit State . The dogmatics of administrative law before the current tasks of administration , in: Publications of the Association of German Constitutional Law Teachers , Volume 30, 1972, p. 231
  6. Norbert Achterberg, The legal order as legal relationship order: Foundation of the legal relationship theory , 1982, p. 110