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The rules on compensation following internet disruption

Disruptions to the internet can be annoying and costly for individuals and for businesses. The fact that individuals can claim compensation is therefore to be welcomed. But how much can individuals claim in the event of internet disruption? 

The rules on compensation following internet disruption © Benjamin-Duda-Fotolia

The rules on compensation following internet disruption © Benjamin-Duda-Fotolia

Compensation for internet disruption

In a case heard by the Düsseldorf county court, a customer sought to claim compensation after his internet connection had been disrupted. The claimant had recently changed internet service providers and spent 12 days without internet due to a problem in transferring his existing telephone number.

The customer sought to obtain compensation from the internet service provider to cover the cost that would have been incurred had he concluded a 24-month 4G contract with a new internet service provider. There was no other option available for bridging the internet disruption period.

Customer entitled to compensation

The court ruled that customers who suffer internet disruption are generally entitled to claim compensation (case ref. 20 C 8948/13). The right to claim exists without the requirement to prove material loss. This is because internet service providers are required under § 46(1) German Telecommunication Act to ensure that the internet service being provided to the customer is not disrupted by a change in service providers.

Limited compensation 

However, having found that the customer was entitled to compensation, the court went on to limit the amount to be paid.

The court argued that customers could not simply demand the price that would have been paid of obtaining services to cover the disruption period. Instead, a fictive amount could be applied for the period of disruption.

The court determined that the monthly market price for an internet connection would be just over €50 and that the customer was entitled to 12 days’ worth of compensation, totalling around €20. Here, the court relied on the case law of Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (case ref. III ZR 98/12) stating that the customer’s interest was in receiving compensation and not receiving damages for having to repair the internet connection.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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