Legal basisThe liability for material defects is defined in §§ 17 ff. Of the German Civil Code. Purchase Act (Kauppalaki/Köplag; Act No. 355 of 27.3.1987) and – for consumer purchases – in Chapter 5 §§ 16 ff. Consumer Protection Act (Kuluttajansuojalaki/Konsumentskyddslag; Act no. 38 from 20.1.1978) regulated.
The buyer is entitled to a defect-free product. According to § 17 ff. Purchase law lies one Defect exists if the thing is of a different or lesser quality or serviceability when it is handed over to the buyer than it should have been according to the contract and/or the present circumstances. Criteria are type, quantity, quality and packaging as well as assurances regarding the characteristics of the goods. The regulation of the contractual conformity of a product in the sale of consumer goods corresponds to that of the European directive requirement (1999/44/EC). However, in the case of the sale of consumer goods, it is generally presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that the lack of conformity which becomes apparent within six months of the delivery of the goods already existed at the time of delivery, unless this presumption is incompatible with the nature of the goods or the nature of the lack of conformity (chap. 5 § 15 para. 2 Consumer Protection Act).
According to Finnish law, the buyer is obliged to check the goods for defects upon receipt. If the buyer has examined the object of sale before the conclusion of the contract, or if he has not complied with a request to that effect by the seller without good reason, he may not – except in the case of fraudulent intent on the part of the seller – invoke such defects that he would have found at a Investigation should have discovered (§ 20 para. 2 Sale of Goods Act). After handing over the purchased item, the buyer must carry out an examination that is customary in accordance with good morals as soon as circumstances permit (§ 31 Kaufgesetz). This is linked to the regulation of Notice of defects an (§ 32 Purchase Act): The buyer must notify the seller of the defect within a reasonable period of time from the time he discovered or should have discovered the defect. In the case of traders, this period will usually be shorter than in the case of other buyers. Sections 31, 32 of the Sale of Goods Act do not apply if the seller's conduct was grossly negligent or if he violated the principle of good faith. In the case of the sale of consumer goods, the buyer must notify the seller within two months from the date on which he discovered the lack of conformity (chap. 5 § 16 para. 1 Consumer Protection Act).
If the purchased item is defective, the buyer is generally entitled to the following claims:
– Subsequent delivery (in the case of generic purchase),
– Reimbursement of the purchase price (conversion) and
– if necessary, compensation for damages (§ 40 Kaufgesetz).
Claims for rectification of defects and subsequent delivery take precedence over claims for reduction of the purchase price or rescission of the contract, unless the seller suffers unreasonable disadvantages (Sections 34, 35 of the Sale of Goods Act; chap. 5 §§ 18, 19 Consumer Protection Act). The elimination of defects in the form of repair or replacement must take place within a reasonable period of time.
Statute of limitations
The limitation period for statutory warranty claims is generally three years from knowledge of the defect. This period also begins to run if the consumer should have recognized the defect. For further information on this topic, please refer to the GTAI legal report "Statute of Limitations in Finnish Law".
News: Harmonization of warranty rights in the area of online and offline purchase of goods
As part of the Digital Single Market strategy, the EU has launched two new directives aimed at harmonizing warranty rights for online and offline purchases of goods, thereby strengthening consumer protection, especially for cross-border purchases. Member States must adopt these directives by 1. January 2022 have been transposed into national law.
The directives introduce a two-tier warranty right for purchases both online and offline. Accordingly, the buyer is first entitled to a claim for subsequent performance, secondary rights (reduction, rescission and damages) can be asserted subordinately. In addition, the reversal of the burden of proof in the event of a defect is extended from the previous six months after delivery to one year.
Furthermore, the warranty period for both analog and digital goods is set at two years across Europe, although member states are free to provide longer periods.
Also new is the introduction of an update right for buyers of goods with integrated digital elements. Sellers must provide information about necessary updates within a reasonable period of time and also make them available to the buyer.