Third party claims arising from the attorney contract

By DR. RODOLFO DOLCE | 12.02.2021

A legally interesting and practically very relevant question is whether third parties can assert claims against the lawyer from a lawyer's contract that they did not conclude with the lawyer.

A woman and her two daughters suffered a serious traffic accident. The woman hired a lawyer who duly settled all claims with the insurance company. Years later, the daughters had consequential damages that they could no longer claim against the insurance company because the statute of limitations had run. They accused the lawyer that he should have pointed out at the time that the daughters should also have asserted their own claims to avoid the statute of limitations.

The BGH (9.7.2020, IX ZR 289/19) ruled in a lawyer-friendly manner that, in principle, the lawyer's contract does not develop protective effects in favor of third parties without an express provision. The decision is based on the absence of the prerequisites of the institute of the contract with protective effects in favor of third parties developed by German case law. In this case, the first requirement of "proximity of performance" is already missing. It cannot be assumed that a lawyer who receives the mandate of a family member automatically also has to look after the interests of the other family members.

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