Travel Contract Law, German Civil Code

German Civil Code (BGB), Section 651 a - k (Travel Contract Law, excerpt)

§ 651a, Typical contractual duties in a package travel contract

  1. By a package travel contract, a travel organizer is obliged to render for the traveler a complete set of travel services (travel package) for   the traveler. The traveler is obliged to pay the travel organizer the agreed price for the travel package.
     
  2. A declaration that the only contracts being arranged are contracts with the persons who are to carry out the individual travel services (service providers) will be disregarded if the other circumstances create the impression that the party making the declaration is performing the contractually provided travel services on his own responsibility.
     
  3. The travel organizer must provide the traveler with a document on the package travel contract (travel confirmation) when the contract is entered into or without undue delay after the contract is entered into. The travel confirmation and a brochure provided by the travel organizer must include the information specified in the statutory order made under Article 238 of the Introductory Act to the Civil Code (Introduction Law to the Civil Code).
     
  4. The travel organizer may only increase the travel price if this is provided for in the contract with precise information on the calculation of the new price and if in doing this he is taking into account an increase in transport costs, charges for specific services, port or airport fees or a change in the foreign exchange rates relating to the travel package in question. A price increase demanded after the twentieth day prior to the agreed date of departure is ineffective. Section 309 no. 1 remains unaffected.
     
  5. The travel organizer must declare a change in the travel price under subsection 4, an admissible change of an essential travel service or an admissible cancellation of the travel package to the traveler without undue delay after being informed of the reason for change or the cancellation. In the event of an increase in the travel package price by more than five per cent or of a substantial change of an essential travel service, the traveler may revoke the contract. He may instead, just as in the case of a cancellation of the travel package by the travel organizer, demand to be able to participate in another travel package of at least equivalent value if the travel organizer is in a position to offer such a travel package from his programs without any extra charge to the traveler. The traveler must assert these rights to the travel organizer without undue delay after the declaration by the travel organizer.

§ 651 b Transfer of contract

  1. Until the commencement of the travel package, the traveler may demand that a third party takes over the rights and duties under the package travel contract in his place. The travel organizer may object to such taking over of the contract by a third party if the third party does not satisfy the specific travel requirements or if the participation of the third party is contrary to statutory regulations or official orders.
     
  2. If a third party takes over the contract, then the third party and the traveler are liable to the travel organizer as joint and several debtors for the travel price and any extra charges incurred by the third party taking over the contract.

§ 651 c Relief

  1. The travel organizer is obliged to provide the travel package in such a way that it has the warranted characteristics and is not impaired by faults that cancel or reduce its value or its suitability for the customary use or the use assumed under the contract.
     
  2. If the travel package is not of this quality, then the traveler may demand relief. The travel organizer may refuse the relief if it requires disproportionate expense.
     
  3. If the travel organizer does not provide relief within a reasonable period of time set by the traveler, then the traveler may himself provide relief and demand reimbursement of the required expenses. A period of time need not be specified if the travel organizer refuses relief or if immediate relief is required by a particular interest of the traveler.

§ 651 d Reduction of price

  1. If the travel package is defective within the meaning of section 651c 1, then the travel package price is reduced for the duration of the defect subject to the provisions of section 638 3. Section 638(4 applies with the necessary modifications.
     
  2. The reduction of price is not made to the extent that the traveler culpably fails to make notification of the defect.

§ 651 e Termination for defect

  1. If the travel package is substantially impaired as a result of a defect of the type referred to in section 651c, the traveler may terminate the contract. The same applies if he cannot reasonably be expected to accept the travel package due to such a defect for a compelling reason discernible to the travel organizer.
     
  2. Termination is only admissible if the travel organizer has let a reasonable period of time set by the traveler pass without providing relief. A period of time need not be specified if the relief is impossible or is refused by the travel organizer or if immediate termination of the contract is required by a particular interest of the traveler.
     
  3. If the contract is terminated, then the travel organizer loses his claim to the agreed package price. However, he may demand compensation to be assessed under section 638 (3) for travel services already provided or yet to be provided in order to bring the travel package to an end. This does not apply to the extent that the traveler has no more interest in these services as the result of the cancellation of the contract.
     
  4. The travel organizer is obliged to take measures necessitated by cancellation of the contract, including without limitation, if the contract includes return transport, to transport the traveler back. Extra costs are borne by the travel organizer.

§ 651 f Damages

  1. Notwithstanding any reduction of price or notice of termination, the traveler may demand damages for nonperformance unless the defect in the travel package resulted from a circumstance for which the travel organizer is not responsible.
     
  2. If the travel package is made impossible or significantly impaired, then the traveler may also demand appropriate compensation in money for holiday leave spent to no avail.

§ 651 g Cut-off period; limitation

  1. Claims under sections 651c to 651f must be asserted by the traveler to the travel organizer within one month of the contractually provided end of the travel package. Section 174 is not applicable. After the end of the period of time, the traveler may only assert claims if he was prevented from complying with the period of time through no fault of his own.
     
  2. Claims by the traveler under sections 651c to 651f are subject to a two-year limitation period. The limitation period commences on the day on which the travel package was to end under the contract.

§ 651 h Admissible limitation of liability

  1. The travel organizer may, by agreement with the traveler, limit his liability for damage that does not constitute bodily injuries to three times the package price
  • to the extent that damage suffered to the traveler was caused neither intentionally nor with gross negligence or
  • to the extent that the travel organizer is responsible for damage suffered by the traveler merely due to the fault of a service provider.
  1. If international agreements or statutory provisions based on international agreements apply to travel services to be rendered by a service provider and provide that a claim for damages is incurred or may be asserted only under certain conditions or with certain restrictions or is barred under certain conditions, then the travel organizer may also invoke this in relation to the traveler.

§ 651 i Revocation prior to commencement of travel

  1. Prior to commencement of travel, the traveler may revoke the contract at any time.
     
  2. If the traveler revokes the contract, then the travel organizer loses his claim to the agreed package price. He may, however, demand appropriate compensation. The amount of such compensation is determined by the price of the travel package minus the value of the expenses saved by the travel organizer and what he can gain by alternative deployment of the travel services.
     
  3. In the contract, for each type of travel package, taking into account the customarily saved expenses and the customary potential savings from alternative deployment of the travel services, a percentage of the package price may be specified as compensation

§ 651 j Termination due to force majeure

  1. If the travel package is substantially obstructed, jeopardized or impaired as the result of force majeure not foreseeable when the contract was entered into, then both the travel organizer and the traveler may terminate the contract merely under this provision.
     
  2. If the contract is terminated under subsection (1), then the provisions of section 651e (3) sentences 1 and 2 and 651e (4) sentence 1 apply. Extra costs for return transport are to be borne by the parties one-half each. Apart from this, extra costs are borne by the traveler.

§ 651 k Guarantee; payment

  1. The travel organizer must guarantee that the traveler is reimbursed
  • the price of the travel package paid to the extent that travel services fail to materialize due to insolvency or the commencement of insolvency proceedings relating to the assets of the travel organizer, and
  • necessary expenses incurred by the traveler for return travel due to insolvency or the commencement of insolvency proceedings relating to the assets of the travel organizer.
  1. The duties under sentence 1 may only be performed by the travel organizer
  • by means of an insurance policy taken out with an insurance company authorized to conduct business operations within the area of application of this Code, or
  • by the promise of payment of a banking institution authorized for business operations within the area of application of this Code.
  1. The insurer or the banking institution (customer finance guarantor) may limit its liability for the total amounts to be reimbursed by it in one year to 110 million Euros. If the total of the amounts to be reimbursed by a customer finance guarantor under this law in one year exceed the maximum amounts stated in sentence 1, then the individual reimbursement claims will be reduced in the ratio of their total amount to the maximum amount.
     
  2. To discharge his duty under subsection (1), the travel organizer must provide the traveler with a direct claim on the customer finance guarantor and must evidence it by handing over a confirmation (guarantee certificate) issued by the customer finance guarantor or at its behest. The customer finance guarantor may not invoke, in relation to a traveler to whom a guarantee certificate has been handed out, either objections under the customer finance guarantor contract or the fact that the guarantee certificate was only issued after termination of the customer finance guarantor contract. In the cases referred to in sentence 2, the claim of the traveler against the travel organizer passes to the customer finance guarantor to the extent that the latter satisfies the claim of the traveler. A travel agent is under a duty to the traveler to check the validity of the guarantee certificate when he hands it over to the traveler.
     
  3. The travel organizer and the travel agent may only demand or accept payments towards the package price from the traveler prior to the end of the travel package if a guarantee certificate has been given to the traveler. A travel agent is deemed to be authorized by the travel organizer to accept payments towards the package price if he hands over a guarantee certificate or if other circumstances attributable to the travel organizer show that he has been entrusted by the travel organizer to negotiate travel contracts on his behalf. This does not apply if acceptance of payments by the travel agent is excluded in relation to the traveler in a conspicuous form.
     
  4. If, at the time when the contract is entered into, the travel organizer has his principal place of business in another Member State of the European Communities or in another contracting state to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, then the travel organizer also discharges his duties under subsection (1) if he gives the traveler security in compliance with the provisions of the other state and if those provisions satisfy the requirements of subsection (1) sentence 1. Subsection (4) applies subject to the proviso that the provision of security must be evidenced to the traveler.
     
  5. Subsections (1) to (6) do not apply if
  • the travel organizer only organizes travel occasionally and outside his commercial activities,
  • the travel package does not last longer than twenty-four hours, does not include an overnight stay and the package price does not exceed seventy-five Euros,
  • the travel organizer is a legal person under public law whose assets may not be the object of insolvency proceedings.

source: Federal Ministry of Justice
Federal Republic of Germany
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/index.html

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