E-commerce Regulations in Germany
Reaching out for Consumers in Germany?
Any business that intends to address possible customers in Germany by way of its website or web shop needs to take German law into consideration. The most important German statutes in this area of law are:
- Act against Unfair Competition [UWG]
- Quotation of Prices Act [PrAngV]
- Telemedia Act [TMG]
- Privacy Act [BDSG]
- Packaging Act [VerpackV]
- Regulations on General Terms and Conditions within the German Civil Code [BGB]
- Consumer Protection Act (e.g. obligation to inform consumers on their right of withdrawal)
- Treaty on the Protection of Human Dignity and on the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and the Electronic Media [JMStV]
- Securities law and the financial supervisory law (if relevant in your case)
Infringing upon any of these rules may result in cease and desist letters from your competitors or from consumer protection agencies, and the burden to carry full costs and expenses, including any additional damages, will be on you. In addition, the authorities may shut down your website and impose substantial fines on you.
We will draft all legally relevant online texts for your website in German and in English language, in particular the following texts that are mandatory in most instances:
- General Terms and Conditions
- Consumer Right of Withdrawal Instructions
Limit your Personal Liability: Form a Legal Entity
In order to limit your personal liability, in most cases it is recommendable to form a separate legal entity with limited liability (e.g. a GmbH, AG, or a foreign form of a limited liability company). This limited liability company would then assume responsibility and liability for the content of your website and the activities of your web shop. We will be pleased to advise you on the appropriate legal form, and will handle the formation process for you.