Proof of e-mail receipt.
Pursuant to § 130 of the German Civil Code, the sender of an email bears the full burden of proof that the email was received by the recipient. The sender does not benefit from any simplification of the burden of proof if he or she does not receive notification that the e-mail was undeliverable after it was sent.
This was decided by the Regional Labour Court on 11 January 2022.
In the legal dispute, the parties disputed the plaintiff's obligation to repay a loan granted to him to finance further training to the defendant. The loan agreement stipulated that the defendant would waive repayment of the loan if, for operational reasons, it did not offer the plaintiff employment within five years after completion of the training. Whether the plaintiff received an email from the defendant with an offer of employment attached on the last day of the deadline was in dispute. The defendant referred to its outgoing and incoming mail account, according to which the email had been sent and it had subsequently not received any notification of undeliverability. According to the plaintiff, he did not receive such an email until three days later.
In the employment relationship agreed thereupon, the defendant began to withhold 500 euros per month from the plaintiff's salary as loan repayment. It was of the opinion that the plaintiff had been offered a job in good time on the basis of the email. The condition for waiving repayment had not occurred. It could rely on prima facie evidence as to the timely receipt of the email.
The Labour Court upheld the action for payment of wages. The Regional Labour Court dismissed the defendant's appeal against this decision.
The sender had to prove that an email had been received. The sending of the e-mail did not constitute prima facie evidence of receipt by the recipient. It was not certain whether the message would be received on the recipient's server after the e-mail had been sent. As with ordinary mail, it was technically possible that the message would not arrive. This risk could not be placed on the recipient. The sender chooses the method of transmission of the declaration of intent and thus bears the risk that the message will not arrive.
In order to ensure that an e-mail has reached the addressee, the sender has the option of requesting a read receipt via the option management of an e-mail program.
Source: Press release of the Regional Labour Court Cologne No. 2/2022 of 21 February 2022
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