Local Court of Cologne, decision of 28 April 2014, file number
142 C 354/13
The local court of Cologne recently ruled that it was not
sufficient if the operator of an online shop labels the order
button with "purchase now" in order to comply with the
requirements of the so-called "button solution" set forth
in sec. 312j para. 3 of the German Civil Code. This provision
requires that the consumer is clearly and unambiguously informed
about his obligation to pay when placing an order. According to the
local court of Cologne "purchase now" is not unambiguous
as there are scenarios where a consumer can enter into a purchase
agreement without assuming an immediate obligation to pay a
purchase price, e.g. in cases of a sale on trial. The prevailing
legal literature holds a different view and, in fact, it can only
be hoped that other courts will not follow the local court of
Cologne in this respect. The prevailing practice of
cease-and-desist letters in German e-commerce is already bad
enough. Isn't it the characteristic feature of a purchase
agreement that the purchaser assumes the obligation to pay the
purchase price (yes, that is a rhetorical question)? The court of
Cologne's reference to sales on trial is not particularly
convincing, as in a case of a sale made on account there is also no
immediate obligation to pay the purchase price. However, for
reasons of utmost precaution one should consider to mark the order
button with the words "Order and Pay" (the text foreseen
in sec. 312j para. 3 German Civil Code) or with "Purchase with
the Assumption to Pay".
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about your specific circumstances.
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