Bgh: banks may cancel current account without declaration

Bgh: banks may cancel current account without declaration

The action brought by a right-wing extremist book distributor was thus essentially unsuccessful. The commerzbank had cancelled the account without stating any specific reason. A clause to this effect in the general terms and conditions of business was effective, the federal court of justice ruled. The bank was not obliged to justify any unequal treatment of different customers (az. XI ZR 22/12).

The true background of the dispute can only be guessed at. The bookseller’s program "lesen und schenken" includes titles such as "die ritterkreuztrager der waffen-SS" – a work that is advertised as an "honorary book of the bravest" and fits in seamlessly with the rest of the selection. In 2009, commerzbank informed the bookseller that it was no longer in a position to maintain the account relationship "for fundamental reasons". The bank did not give any further reasons.

Such a notice is in principle legal, the BGH now ruled. The bank was not obliged to treat all customers equally. "There was no obligation to substantiate the notice in any way," said presiding judge ulrich wiechers. The principles of rental or labor law do not apply to contracts for checking accounts.

According to wiechers, "ideological orientation" is not a reason for which the prohibition of discrimination under the general equal treatment act applies. Nor are there any circumstances that would make the notice "unlawful or unseemly". The inconvenience caused by a change of bank account must be accepted by the plaintiff.

The bookseller’s lawyer had argued that every company relies on bank accounts. Therefore, bank customers were entitled to trust that the bank would not terminate the business relationship without cause.

The BGH, on the other hand, emphasized the principle of private autonomy, according to which the bank is largely free in its contractual relationships. The situation was different for the savings banks, which are legally more strongly bound as public-law institutions.

Nevertheless, the book distributor had a small success: the BGH judges referred the case back to clarify whether a duly authorized employee had signed the notice.

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