On 1 August 2012 new legislation against “cost traps” during online transactions will enter into force in Germany.
A legal contract will not be formed if the information requirements are disregarded.
The new legislation requires online businesses to inform consumers:
- directly before they place an order
- in clear terms
- in a comprehensible way
These rules apply to the essential characteristics of the relevant product or service – such as the price. A valid contract shall only be formed where the information requirements have been regarded and the consumer has explicitly confirmed their obligation to make a payment. Where the order is placed by means of activating a button, the button must be clearly labelled in a legible fashion with the notice 'order with obligation to pay' or with a similar, clear formulation “button solution”.
If a business fails to fulfil the new information requirements following section 312g of the German Civil Code, a legal contract will not be formed. The burden of proving fulfilment of such obligations lies solely with the business.