Architectural and engineering law
Contracts in the field of architects’ and engineers’ law were previously covered by contracts for work and services from a legal point of view and were not more detailed. Since the building law reform of 1 January 2018, however, they have been independently standardized in the BGB (“Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch”; civil law codification). The new provisions on architects’ and engineers’ contracts refer to contracts for work and services and construction contracts. In addition, they contain supplementary provisions that deviate significantly from the previous legal situation.
The consequences of the new regulations for practice cannot yet be assessed. What is certain, however, is that the previous model contracts have had their day. Instead, the arrangement of individual contracts according to the specific project and the respective parties involved in the construction is gaining importance.
The scope of services must be determined contractually between the parties involved, because the HOAI (“Honorarordnung für Architekten und Ingenieure”; regulation of fees for architects and engineers) directly determines only the fee as the consideration, not the contractual obligation of the architect or the engineer. In order to contractually determine the contractual obligation, the contracting parties can fall back on the HOAI, unless the scope of services is regulated by individual contract.
Construction contract law
Until 31.12.2017, the construction contract was not regulated separately by law. The contract for work and services served as a uniform and non-specific legal model for the provision of technical services, with or without reference to construction.
Since January 1, 2018, the construction contract has its own legal content as a variation of the contract for work and services. The legislator has supplemented provisions on the law governing contracts for work and services with provisions which, as experience has shown, are particularly relevant in construction contract law. A new provision is the possibility of judicial protection against the contractual partner during ongoing construction work.
Construction arbitration proceedings
Arbitration is the alternative to litigation before state courts in disputes related to a construction contract. We conduct such proceedings for you. To this end, we appoint qualified construction lawyers (lawyers and judges) who act as an independent three-member arbitration panel and bring the legal dispute to a decision.
Your advantage: Arbitral tribunals can often speed up proceedings considerably and bring about a quick result. Depending on the duration of the proceedings and the extent of the evidence to be gathered, the costs can also be significantly reduced.
Alternatively, we take the conduct of arbitration proceedings into account right from the contract drafting stage. In addition, the parties can also agree on arbitration proceedings in acute disputes.
The VOB/B (General Terms and Conditions for the Execution of Construction Work) are still up to date as of 2016. The VOB/B are regarded as general terms and conditions of contract and are therefore subject to review in accordance with AGB law. General terms and conditions may not contradict the legal model.
However, because the legal regulations on the construction contract have fundamentally changed as of 01.01.2018, some provisions of the VOB/B no longer correspond to the legal model at the current status of 2016. Therefore, there is a risk that contracts concluded after 1 January 2018 and incorporating the VOB/B may be partially invalid due to violations of mandatory statutory regulations.
Ideally, the VOB/B would have been revised in parallel with the legislative process, which had lasted for years. Instead, it is now to be expected that the relevant provisions of the BGB on the one hand and the VOB/B on the other will diverge over a longer period of time, because results in legal practice manifest themselves particularly in case law and presuppose the legally binding conclusion of time-consuming proceedings.