Civil law affects nearly all areas of life of natural persons, but is also applicable to legal persons (Ltd, general partnership, limited partnership). It regulates the relations amongst the legal entities, be it on contractual basis or due to familial relations, especially between parents and children, up to regulations regarding the legacy of decedents. Further essential areas which are covered by civil law are contract law, compensation law, legal representation as well as insolvency law.
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A legally valid contract can be concluded in writing or orally. Furthermore, also “implied actions” can lead to the entering of a contract. However, this often does not conclude the contract validly or there are problems in the implementation. Thus, the contract design is of great importance. If a complex situation should be regulated by a contract, the contract soon becomes a complex legal project. Consulting a lawyer as the person who writes the contract or who reviews it, brings the necessary legal certainty from preamble to declaration of intent to conditions of cancellation. Furthermore, some contracts require notarial certification in order to become valid.
These are pre-formulated contract conditions which are primarily used by companies which conclude many similar contracts with customers. The general terms and conditions cannot be enforced upon anyone. The customer must be given the possibility of acknowledgement and approval. In the online business this is the case, if they are positioned clearly visible on the trader´s homepage (attention: according to §11 E-Commerce law they must be provided in a way that allows the user to store and reproduce them). The GTC on a website for the online shop (Distance Selling Act) must not necessarily be identical with the GTC of the retail shop. In order to also make the GTC valid in other businesses (offline, B2B), these must be clearly incorporated as integral part of the according contracts.
Generally, everyone has to bear a suffered damage him/herself. However, if a damage was caused by illegal and culpable behaviour of someone, claims for damages can be made against this person. According to special liability regulations of certain laws, such as product liability law, regulations governing the liability insurance of railway and motor vehicles (EISENBAHN- UND KRAFTFAHRZEUGHAFTPLFICHTGESETZ), culpability is not always the prerequisite for a claim for damages.
Claims for damages at court can be made within 30 years. However, they have to be sued within 3 years following knowledge regarding damage and perpetrator.
If a natural person is not legally competent, she/he can neither entitle nor oblige her/himself. Thus, the person also needs a representative at court. The scope of the power to represent derives from the General Civil code (ABGB) regarding legal representation or the court decision which reasons the power of representation.
Adult legally competent people can assign a legally competent natural person with the power of representation (in full scope or limited to a legal concern) at their own disposal. In lawsuits where the representation by a lawyer is obligatory, only a lawyer may be assigned.
Underage children are generally represented by their parents. This does not apply if the guardianship court has determined a legal guardian.
If a custodian was determined for an adult person due to legal incapacity, then he/she is usually also in charge of the legal representation. However, the court can also limit the legal custodianship to certain asset issues.
Juristic people are also legally competent. In order to entitle or oblige them, thus to act in business transactions, a natural person is required as representative body. The power of representation of the juristic person´s bodies is regulated by law, external limitations are generally not approved.
If it is a consumer business (a contract between entrepreneur and consumer), warranty claims can neither be excluded in the general terms and conditions nor in side agreements nor in single contracts. Only for used goods it can be expressly agreed that the 2-year-period is reduced to 1 year. A vehicle for example is regarded as used, if it was licensed for altogether 12 months for public traffic.
In no case can the regulations of guarantee replace or rescind the legal seller´s warranty.
If there is a deficiency which can be remedied with economically reasonable measures, the buyer must request an improvement, however the chosen remedy may not be disproportionate (unreasonable) for the deliverer. If the deficiency cannot be remedied, the remedy is infeasible or unreasonable for the buyer or if the improvement is refused or inappropriately delayed by the deliverer, depending on the relevance of the breach of contract, also redhibition (reverse transaction of the contract, thus product or service for money) or in the case of only minimal faults, price reduction can be asked for.
The seller is obliged to warrant flawlessness. Thus, warranty describes the liability for product and legal faults, regardless of culpability, which already exist at the time of delivery
If such a deficiency becomes obvious within the first 6 months, the basic assumption is that the fault already existed at the time of delivery and can be objected. After that, this assumption is no longer valid and it must be proven that the default already existed at time of delivery. Warranty claims generally expire after 2 years after delivery. For immovable property, the deadline is 3 years.
The guarantee on the other hand is a voluntary commitment that a product resp. a work maintains the agreed characteristics (e.g. functioning, little wear and tear etc.) for a certain time. The guarantee can also be connected to conditions and requirements. Generally, a guarantee is limited. The moment when the possible deficiency occurs is irrelevant in the guarantee. Upon the customer´s request, guarantees must be submitted in paper form or on a lasting digital data carrier. They must contain the reference that additional guarantees are ensured, which exceed the legal warranty and these must be described in detail. Guarantees must contain more rights for the consumer than the legal warranty already includes.