Companies have to be cautious when sending out newsletters and other emails with advertising content. Before approaching someone for marketing purposes, the recipient's prior consent must generally be obtained. Unsolicited emails sent to private email addresses violate the general right of personality. Exceptionally permitted is only self-promotion sent to established customers.

The local court of Düsseldorf also declared an unsolicited feedback request as impermissible (file number 20 C 6875/14). As consumer habits were queried here, the breach of law was considered even more severe than sending just a regular marketing email.

The district court of Stuttgart on the other hand recently denied a breach of law regarding the sending of an automatic confirmation of receipt (file number 4 S 165/14 – appeal filed). The court reasoned that although this email mainly contained advertisements apart from the receipt confirmation, it was nevertheless caused by the inquiry of the customer and therefore permissible.

In case of violations the recipient may give the company a written warning and claim a declaration to cease and desist. Attorney fees will have to be reimbursed. Furthermore, the Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz) grants the recipient a comprehensive right to information concerning his or her personal data saved.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.