Klaus Bartels

Zum Rückgriff nach eigennütziger Zahlung auf fremde Schuld – Anleihen bei DCFR und common law für das deutsche Recht

Jahrgang 78 () / Heft 3, S. 479-507 (29)

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Recourse After Self-serving Payment on Another's Debt – German Law Borrowing From the DCFR and the Common Law Under German law, the self-serving payment on another's debt must be regarded as a performance (Leistung) of the payer to the creditor. The payment leads to a discharge of the debt (§ 267 of the German BGB). A cessio legis, being incompatible with discharge, takes effect only under the exceptions provided by law. A third party may claim reimbursement from the original debtor only under the regime of benevolent intervention in another's affairs (Geschäftsführung ohne Auftrag). But the criteria for determining the meaning of concepts such as »another's affairs« and the »intention of benefiting another« are widely challenged. And having a recourse plan in mind, also positive effects on the debtor's issues, which could support the criteria of § 683 sentence 1 BGB, are regularly missed. The prevailing German doctrine is comfortable with the Rückgriffskondiktion (§ 812 (1) sentence 1, alternative 2 BGB), hereby enabling, subsidiarily, recourse to the benefit of the true debtor. The common law has traditionally been averse to this approach. And the Draft Common Frame of Reference avoids this condictio entirely. It is obvious that the English rules on legal compulsion (with their reservation vis-à-vis full restitution as under continental regimes) are substantially convincing. And despite its cautious approach, the Draft Common Frame of Reference offers similar solutions regarding payments of a third party, who did not consent freely (Art. VII.-2:101(1)(b) DCFR). In cases involving, for instance, an »execution interest«, a corresponding interpretation is needed, perhaps even an analogous application of this rule. A similar approach is taken by the German doctrine following § 814 alternative 1 BGB by lowering the restitution barrier for cases of pressure caused by a conflict or compulsion. The already very narrow scope of application of the German Rückgriffskondiktion is thus further and markedly circumscribed: The law of unjust enrichment recognizes gratuitous interference in another's affairs only if the intervener presents substantial reasons to let his conduct be regarded as consistent.

Klaus Bartels ist Professor an der Universität Hamburg.