Debt relationship

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The obligation relationship ( Latin obligatio ) describes in Germany a legal relationship between two (or more) persons , on the basis of which one can demand a performance from the other person . The contractual obligation forms the basis for a claim within the meaning of Section 194 (1) BGB . Both natural and legal persons can appear as legal entities .

A distinction is borne by the will of the parties in legal transactions and no party will outcoming statutory obligations . Typical legal contractual obligations are the purchase contract or the surety relationship . The legal obligations include, in particular, the unlawful act§ 823 ff. BGB) and the unjustified enrichment , (§ § 823 ff. BGB).

In Switzerland, the obligation is called an obligation .

Obligation in the narrower and broader sense

Since the law uses the concept of the obligation relationship with different meanings, a distinction is made in jurisprudence between the obligation relationship in the narrower and wider sense.

Obligatory relationship in the narrower sense

The obligation relationship in the narrower sense describes the individual performance relationship between the creditor and the debtor and thus describes the situation in which the claim and the corresponding debt are opposed, without presupposing the perspective of the creditor or that of the debtor, as is the case with the terms "claim" or "debt".

Example: If buyer K and seller V conclude a sales contract , then on the one hand K's claim against V for transfer of ownership of the purchased item and V's claims against K for transfer of the purchase price and acceptance of the purchased item each represent their own obligations in the narrower sense .

Examples of places where the law uses the term obligation relationship in the narrower sense: Section 241 (1) BGB, Section 311 (1) BGB, Section 362 (1) BGB, Section 397 BGB.

Obligation in the broader sense

The debt ratio in the broad sense refers not only to individual performance relationship (and therefore the obligation in the strict sense), but the totality of konnexen services between the entities .

Example: If buyer K and seller V conclude a sales contract , then K's claim against V for transfer of ownership of the purchased item and V's claims against K for transfer of the purchase price and acceptance of the purchased item together represent the obligations in the broader sense.

Examples of places where the law uses the term obligation in the broader sense: Heading of the 8th section of the law of obligations, § 273 Paragraph 1 BGB, § 292 Paragraph 1 BGB, § 425 Paragraph 1 BGB

Creation of debt relationships

Obligations can arise through legal transactions , similar acts or the law .

Legal obligations

Legal contractual obligations arise through a corresponding contract ( contractual relationship ) between the obligee and the debtor (cf. § 311, Paragraph 1 BGB), but in exceptional cases also through a unilateral legal transaction by the debtor (e.g. an offer ). In accordance with the principle of freedom of contract , the parties involved determine the content of the contractual relationship and thus in particular the respective performance obligations through the contract itself.

Important individual types of contract that establish an obligation are specifically regulated in the contractual part of the BGB (e.g. purchase , donation , rent , lease or loan ). However, the parties involved are not bound by these types of contract, but can also establish obligations through contracts that do not correspond to any of the regulated contract types (e.g. through a leasing contract ), as long as these contracts comply with the guiding principles of the law of obligations.


Legal business-like obligations

Obligations similar to legal transactions arise on the one hand in accordance with Section 311 (2) of the German Civil Code (BGB) through the commencement of contract negotiations or through contract initiation in which one part grants or entrusts the other part with the possibility of influencing its rights, legal interests or interests with regard to a possible legal relationship . They also arise from culpa in contrahendo .

On the other hand, in accordance with Section 311 (3) of the German Civil Code (BGB) , they arise from persons who are not intended to become a contracting party themselves, but who have placed particular trust in themselves during the contract negotiations and thus significantly influenced the conclusion of the contract. (Trustee liability, backers liability)

Such obligations do not contain any specific performance obligations, but only obligations of consideration within the meaning of Section 241 (2) BGB. If a breach of duty , illegality or negligence of the person concerned proved an incurred is fidelity to replace.

Statutory Obligations

Statutory obligations arise through the realization of a statutory fact. The content of the contractual obligation, in particular the performance obligations, are not determined by the parties involved in the legal obligation, but by the law.

For example, if someone deliberately or negligently destroys someone else's vehicle, the statutory offense of unauthorized action pursuant to Section 823 (1) of the German Civil Code (BGB) is fulfilled . As a result, a legal obligation arises between the parties involved, which entitles the injured party to claim damages from the injuring party.

The most important facts, the realization of which result in an obligation, are, in addition to the unlawful act§ 823 ff. BGB), the unjustified enrichment§ 812 ff. BGB) and the management without engagement§ 677 ff. BGB).

Extinction of obligations

While a debt relationship in the broader sense remains in place until all of the debt relationships it encompasses in the narrower sense have expired, a debt relationship in the narrower sense expires, among other things, if

  • the owed service has been provided (fulfillment - § § 362  ff. BGB)
  • the debtor deposits valuables for the obligee in a designated public place ( deposit agreement - § § 372  ff. BGB)
  • two legal entities who owe each other services that offset mutual claims ( offsetting - § § 387  ff. BGB)
  • the obligee releases the debtor from the debt by contract ( debt relief ; § 397 BGB)
  • the position of the creditor and the position of the debtor coincide in one legal entity ( confusion )

Obligations from the contractual relationship

In most cases, mutual obligations result from a contractual obligation. In a legally generalized way, performance is understood to mean the conscious and purposeful increase in the assets of others. In the case of the purchase contract, the mutual services consist specifically of the provision of ownership of the purchase items and the payment of the purchase price , in the case of the rental agreement, the provision of use of the rental item and the payment of the rent.

Obligations of conduct result from legal obligations, because the law asks those involved to do or not to do a certain thing.

The law requires obligations of consideration for pre-contractual obligations such as the “culpa in contrahendo”, where the business partner has a pre-contractual obligation to provide information, without which there is a risk of liability for damages due to negligence when the contract is concluded. In the event of a culpable breach of these obligations, the injured party can demand compensation (Section 280 (1) BGB).

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang Fikentscher / Andreas Heinemann, Schuldrecht , 2006, p. 386