During the night from March 9 to March 10, 2017, the German Bundestag decided to make changes to warranty law.
According to the new provisions, what previously only applied to sales to private citizens will apply in the future also to contracts between companies (B2B): in the event of a defect in the articles sold, the merchant will be liable for the cost of disassembly and installing replacement parts. The same applies to attached items, such as paint.
In B2B constellations, this kind of claim to reimbursement has previously existed if the seller had originally installed the articles that were sold or if he was at fault (negligence or willful intent). Non-manufacturing sellers or distributors have thus almost never been liable for this cost in the past. With the change in law, the legislator has met a requirement from the craft trade sector.
Previously, craftsmen who were liable to their customers had to bear this type of cost themselves. Now they can pass it on to the supply chain. Those who lose out from this change are wholesalers. For authorized claims, wholesalers can also pass on the cost to their suppliers, usually the manufacturers. That will only be the case, however, if German law applies to the supplier or if an appropriate provision was agreed on. Additionally, wholesalers bear the bankruptcy risk of their sub-suppliers. Disassembly and installation cost can be high and is frequently higher than the value of the defective article itself, especially for C parts. Retailers and wholesalers will therefore now have to attempt to include the increased risk that they will bear in their pricing. The legislator has left open whether they can exclude or otherwise modify the new legal provisions by means of General Terms and Conditions in relation to their corporate customers.
This change is part of the “Act to Reform Construction Contract Law and to Amend Defect Liability under Purchase Law,” (Gesetz zur Reform des Bauvertragsrechts und zur Änderung der kaufrechtlichen Mängelhaftung”) which includes other reforms as well.
The Bundesrat still needs to consent, which is considered a certainty, however. The amendment will enter into force on 01/01/2018.