Contracting within the German legal environment
Along with most of the other European jurisdictions, German law belongs to the long-standing family of continental European legal systems in the tradition of Roman law. This also includes the legal systems of Central and Eastern Europe. This legal family is characterised by its codified system of legal rovisions, e.g. in the form of statutes.On this basis, a systematisation and standardisation of European civil law is conceivable over the medium or long term,
as is demonstrated by the current discussions concerning European contract law. In Germany, all important legal issues and matters are governed by
comprehensive legislation in the form of statutes, codes and regulations. The most important legislation in the area of business law includes:
- the Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, abbreviated as BGB), which contains general rules on the formation, performance and enforcement of contracts and on the basic types of contractual agreements for legal transactions between private entities; - the Commercial Code (Handelsgesetzbuch, abbreviated as HGB), which contains special rules concerning transactions among businesses and commercial partnerships;
- the Private Limited Companies Act (GmbH-Gesetz) and the Public Limited Companies Act (Aktiengesetz), covering the two most common corporate structures in Germany – the ‘GmbH’ and the ‘Aktiengesellschaft’; and
- the Act on Unfair Competition (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb, abbreviated as UWG), which prohibits misleading advertising and unfair business practices.
German law is both predictable and reliable. The legislator sets the systemic and structural parameters, while lawyers and civil law notaries use the law to shape and organise specific situations.