Noerr LLP updates

Admissibility of lawsuit despite effective mediation clause in franchise agreement
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 02 October 2018

A recent Hamburg Regional Court decision is generally understood to have solidified the first franchise-related court judgment on bad faith regarding mediation clauses rendered by the Saarbruecken Higher Regional Court in 2015. However, at second glance, the Hamburg judgment provides a different reasoning for bad faith regarding a mediation objection and might therefore serve as a new application of bad faith in future franchise-related court proceedings regarding mediation clauses.

New RETT rules for share deals
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 06 July 2018

The Ministers of Finance of the Federal States recently agreed on new real estate transfer tax (RETT) rules for share deals. According to official press releases, a fundamental RETT reform that had been previously discussed was not agreed. Rather, the agreement consists of new RETT rules regarding share deals with a lower threshold, longer holding periods and aligning the rules that are applicable to corporations with those that already apply to partnerships.

Sale of real estate by special purpose vehicles
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 20 April 2018

Transaction structures involving special purpose vehicles, whose main assets after completion of the purchase process consist only of the purchased real estate, are often chosen in Germany. Such structures are used in particular to shield from liability, so that third-party access to the special purpose vehicle's assets is limited. They are also used to facilitate a sale without incurring real property transfer tax for the exit.

Requirements for interim injunction to enforce obligation to operate business
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 06 February 2018

The Bochum Regional Court recently looked at whether a franchisee's contractual obligation to operate a business can be enforced by way of an interim injunction. To grant an interim injunction to enforce the obligation to keep the business open, it must be demonstrated that the franchisor faces serious losses at least equivalent to a threat to its survival or to drawbacks that cannot later be remedied.

Impending terminability of land use agreements for energy plants
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 08 December 2017

The operation of energy plants usually means securing the required land long term by way of a use agreement. Prematurely ending a use agreement can substantially reduce the profitability of investments in energy plants. Defects in the written form of use agreements therefore constitute a risk for such investments. However, the Federal Court of Justice has decided that written form remedy clauses are invalid and do not prevent a contracting party from terminating a use agreement by invoking a written form defect.

No compensation claim for franchisee where franchisor must block customer data when agreement terminated
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 24 October 2017

The Federal Court of Justice recently ruled that an authorised dealer, such as a franchisee, has no compensation claim in analogous application of the regulation governing sales representatives contained in the Commercial Code if the franchisor is contractually obliged to block the customer data provided to it by the franchisee, to discontinue using it and to delete it at the request of the sales intermediary when the contract is terminated.

Rental agreement termination for landlord's own use – new case law
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 16 June 2017

A landlord can terminate a rental agreement for residential premises if he or she has a justified interest in ending the lease. Two recent Federal Court of Justice decisions provide clarification regarding a landlord's needs as grounds for termination. While the change in case law regarding the legal consequences of a breach of the duty to offer is welcome, the judgments also show that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether termination due to a landlord's needs can be declared valid.

No significant obstruction to advertising franchise systems
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 04 April 2017

The Federal Court of Justice recently criticised a franchising advertising flyer in terms of competition law. One interpretation of this judgment is that it makes the advertising of franchise systems significantly more difficult. However, this point of view does not ultimately do justice to the decision, as the judgment does not fundamentally question the typical advertising of franchise systems.

Benchmark for determination of compensation value for use of residential property
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 17 March 2017

A residential landlord's right to compensation for use against a tenant who has been given notice of termination but not vacated the property in time is often of concern if the landlord demands compensation to the value of the rent customarily paid in the area. Until now, how to calculate this compensation precisely has been unclear. A recent Federal Court of Justice case has created legal certainty for those applying the law and has strengthened the interests of landlords.

Adequate substantiation of franchise and marketing fees in arrears
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 07 March 2017

A Brandenburg Higher Regional Court decision regarding the payment of franchise and marketing fees in arrears shows the importance of a substantiated presentation of a claim, as well as the importance of accurate, transparent and comprehensible billing by franchisors. The court could not ascertain whether there were unpaid franchise or marketing fees, as the franchisor failed to present sufficient facts demonstrating the exact amount of the franchise and marketing fees in the respective timeframes.

Federal Fiscal Court clarifies trade tax implications of real estate investments
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 17 February 2017

The Federal Fiscal Court recently clarified previously disputed issues on whether the lease of a shopping centre qualified as trade income or income from property administration. Surprisingly, the court also decided that marketing measures conducted by a centre manager are not detrimental for trade tax purposes, giving real estate investors much more flexibility for existing and future real estate investments in terms of ring-fencing trade tax exposures.

Real estate transactions with sellers outside Germany jeopardised
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 11 November 2016

The sale of German real estate by companies or natural persons based outside Germany was recently made more difficult by the fact that the German tax authorities have obliged buyers to withhold and pay a lump sum of up to 25% of the purchase price for the account of the seller to secure the income tax incurred on the purchase price. This tax deduction can lead to the transaction failing if the purchase price is insufficient to cover both the seller's financing and the lump-sum tax deduction.

Federal Supreme Court decision complicates franchisor advertising on behalf of franchisees
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 14 June 2016

The Federal Supreme Court recently ruled that a franchisor's supplement containing prices stipulated as being "non-binding recommendations" obtainable only "in participating markets" constituted an act of unfair competition as the disclaimer was insufficient. The judgment raises questions about disclaimers, franchisor advertising obligations and whether franchisors are prohibited from enlisting franchisees to participate in a promotion.

Franchising and insolvency
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 08 March 2016

Sometimes a franchisee can no longer pay some or all of the price of goods purchased from the franchisor, the rent for the premises or the franchise fees. Deferrals or instalment agreements may be among the solutions. But what happens if the concessions of the franchisor or the efforts of the parties are inadequate and the franchisee falls into insolvency?

Protection of confidential know-how
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 29 September 2015

Franchise systems work based on the handover of know-how from franchisor to franchisee. To protect know-how, the franchisor can impose confidentiality obligations on the franchisee, even after the franchise agreement has ended. Methods of know-how protection should be dealt with in franchisee training in order to create awareness throughout the franchise system.

Termination of franchise agreements without notice
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 26 May 2015

The Munich Higher Regional Court recently dealt with a case of termination without notice due to breaches of a franchise agreement by a franchisee. The court dismissed the franchisee's claim since the termination was ultimately valid. The court concluded that each individual breach did not justify termination without notice; only on considering all breaches together did termination without notice appear defensible.

Franchisee has no right to compensation
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 24 March 2015

A commercial agent has a right to compensation at the end of a contract for the customer base it has established. The Federal Court of Justice has yet to clarify whether this applies analogously to franchisees – although it recently confirmed that franchisors will no longer be exposed to such a claim if their agreements do not contain an obligation to assign the customer base and such an obligation does not arise from other circumstances.

New rent control legislation – major impact on real estate investment market
Noerr LLP
  • Real Estate
  • Germany
  • 20 February 2015

The federal government recently published a proposal for tenancy law reform. The new rent control legislation will have a significant impact on prospective investors in the residential tenancy sector and investors are therefore advised to bear this in mind in their business and investment plans.

'Available only in participating outlets' notice inadmissible?
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 18 November 2014

An advertiser must display its identity on advertisements. Most advertisements do not have the space to list numerous franchisees and for this reason, supra-regional advertising by franchisors usually carries a footnote. According to the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court, a footnote may breach the Act against Unfair Competition because the advertising does not list the identity of all participating dealers.

Compulsory pension insurance for franchisee as self-employed with employee-like status
Noerr LLP
  • Franchising
  • Germany
  • 19 August 2014

Every franchisee independently markets the franchise as a self-employed businessperson. This applies irrespective of the legal form that the franchisee selects for operating the franchise. The Regensburg Social Court recently considered whether a franchisee operating as a real estate agent was subject to statutory pension insurance contributions as a self-employed agent in accordance with the Social Code.

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