How does the workforce send with one click

One click with consequences - how binding is my digital declaration?

Digital communication - fast, convenient and postage free

The digital sister of the classic letter, e-mail, has become an integral part of everyday life, just like the use of websites, instant messenger services, apps or contact forms. It is therefore obvious to use these communication options to terminate contracts, order goods, reserve tables or to exercise your right of withdrawal after extensive online shopping. The advantages over letters are obvious: E-mails and other forms of digital messages do not need a postage stamp, no paper and do not have to be brought to the mailbox first. They are typed quickly on the smartphone and usually just as quickly on the recipient. No dependency on emptying times of the mailboxes and no hope of arrival on the next working day.

The "natural enemy" of e-mail and Co. - the written form

But it is not always that simple in practice: Certain contracts or declarations are tied to a certain form, for which digital communication is not sufficient. In some cases, the law already requires a signature, e.g. to terminate an employment relationship, or even to consult a notary, as is the case with the purchase of real estate. In case of doubt, the classic letter or the so-called digital signature must be used. In this case, it is not enough to simply scan your own signature, take a photo, insert it digitally into the document or e-mail, or send the whole thing as a fax.

Consumers should therefore inform themselves about the formal requirements in individual cases before choosing between letter and digital letter. The rule that used to be found in general terms and conditions that a signature or written form is required to terminate the contract without the law making any requirements, no longer plays a role for contracts after October 2016. Such formal requirements in terms and conditions are meanwhile ineffective under the law. In such cases, a text form is sufficient for the termination.

"I did not get an email" - the problem with the proof of access

Even if a signature is not required, it can be a good idea to use the "good old" letter, e.g. in the form of a registered letter. The reason is the so-called proof of receipt: the sender of a legally binding declaration, e.g. a termination, must be able to prove in the event of a dispute that the termination has actually reached the recipient.

If the company denies having received a corresponding e-mail or other digital message, consumers must demonstrate and prove that they sent the e-mail with the specific content on time and that it was legible. Despite the possibility of read and receipt confirmations, there is a risk of not being able to provide the necessary evidence in court in the event of a dispute.

It can also become problematic if the company has not even opened the respective digital communication channel to receive such a legally binding declaration. Before sending a cancellation, e.g. via WhatsApp or Facebook, consumers should therefore inquire whether the company will accept the cancellation via these channels at all.

Please note: The greatest possible security in the event of disputes, e.g. about the receipt of a notice of termination, can be obtained, even if it takes longer, by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt.