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Can a Claim for Damages Be Void Despite Meeting § 823 Para. 1 BGB Criteria?

Question from Ari, Can a Claim for Damages Be Void Despite Meeting § 823 Para. 1 BGB Criteria?

Answer from AI:

In the context of German law, § 823 para. 1 of the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB), or the German Civil Code, outlines the foundation for liability and the right to claim damages due to unlawful acts. This provision is crucial for understanding when an individual (the claimant) can demand compensation from another (the defendant) for harm or loss suffered. However, there are scenarios where, even if all elements under § 823 para. 1 BGB seem to be met, a claim for damages does not arise. This might sound counterintuitive, so let’s explore how this is possible and why.

Understanding § 823 Para. 1 BGB

First, it’s essential to grasp what § 823 para. 1 BGB entails. This section states that anyone who, intentionally or negligently, unlawfully injures the life, body, health, freedom, property, or another right of another person is liable to compensate them for the damage arising from this. The key elements include:

  • Unlawfulness: The act must be against the law.
  • Injury: There must be a direct injury to the rights listed (e.g., health, property).
  • Causality: The unlawful act must be the cause of the injury.
  • Fault: The person causing the injury must have acted either intentionally or negligently.

Scenarios Where a Claim Might Not Arise

Despite meeting the above criteria, there are specific scenarios where a claim for damages under § 823 para. 1 BGB might not arise. These include:

  1. Existence of a Legal Justification: If the act causing the injury was legally justified, such as in self-defense or with the claimant’s consent, a claim for damages might not be valid.
  2. Limitation Periods: Claims under § 823 para. 1 BGB are subject to limitation periods. If the claim is not made within the statutory period, typically three years from the end of the year in which the claim arose and the claimant became aware of the circumstances giving rise to the claim and the identity of the obligor, it cannot be pursued.
  3. Exclusion by Contract: Parties might have contractually agreed to exclude or limit liability for certain acts, provided such agreements do not contravene mandatory statutory provisions.
  4. Intervening Acts: If an intervening act by a third party or the claimant themselves breaks the chain of causation, liability under § 823 para. 1 might not be established.

Why Legal Advice is Crucial

Given the complexity of the law and the nuances of individual cases, it’s strongly recommended to seek professional legal advice if you believe you have a claim under § 823 para. 1 BGB or are defending against such a claim. A legal professional can provide personalized advice, taking into account the specifics of your situation, recent case law, and any potential exceptions or additional considerations that might apply.

For more information on the German Civil Code and § 823 para. 1 BGB, you can visit the official translation of the BGB.


While § 823 para. 1 BGB provides a clear framework for claims of damages due to unlawful acts, the legal landscape is intricate, and various factors can influence whether a claim arises. Understanding the law’s requirements, potential exceptions, and the importance of timely action is essential. Consulting with a legal professional can help navigate these complexities and determine the best course of action based on the specifics of your case.

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