02 June 2016 - Post by:Frank Schemmel
The ruling may not be final. Although the Kammergericht Berlin has not allowed the judgement to be appealed, WhatsApp may contest its ruling and file an application for leave to appeal with the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH).
Implication for companies
The current ruling does not only impact WhatsApp but other companies that do not provide German GTCs or privacy policies on their German websites. Having those GTCs or privacy policies in English or another foreign language (i.e. non-German) is not enough. Companies that maintain a German website should therefore check whether they meet the requirements set out in the court ruling of the Kammergericht Berlin and, if not, should translate the respective texts into German.
Although the decision only addresses obligations in terms of texts provided on websites, it might also influence other media such as GTCs and privacy policies on mobile apps hosted on German app stores.
Increased number of court cases expected
It is to be assumed that the vzbv and other German consumer organisations will audit German websites in the meantime, and, if they find GTCs or privacy policies in a foreign language, may request amendments or file for other lawsuits in this regard. So the recent court decision will likely lead to an increasing number of cases filed against companies for non-compliance with German language requirements.
The decision can be accessed here (German language only).