Contract Law in Austria

Contract law in Austria is a part of Austrian civil law and regulates the legal relationships between contracting parties. There are different types of contracts, such as sales contracts, service contracts, lease contracts, loan contracts, and employment contracts, to name a few.

In Austria, the principle of freedom of contract applies, which means that contracts can be freely negotiated between the parties. There is also freedom of form, which means that contracts can be made in writing, orally, or through conduct (implied).

When purchasing goods from a store, the purchase contract is typically formed through conduct, or implied. Usually, no written contract is created, and only a payment receipt is issued. By bringing a product to the cash register, the customer expresses the intention to buy it, without explicitly stating the intention to purchase. The cashier charges for the product, the customer pays, and receives a payment receipt. Although there was no communication about the purchase either in writing or orally, it is clear to all parties involved that a purchase has been made.

However, there are also mandatory legal regulations to be observed, such as some provisions of the Austrian Civil Code (ABGB), labor law regulations, or mandatory provisions in copyright law.

In Austria, a contract is concluded by offer and acceptance. The offer must be specific and serious, while the acceptance must be unchanged. Therefore, a contract is only concluded when the parties agree on the essential content of the contract (the goods or the subject matter of the contract and the price or remuneration).

Many other contract conditions can be regulated, but they do not have to be. If there is no corresponding regulation, the general legal provisions apply, in particular those of the ABGB, labor law regulations, and in the artistic field, copyright law.

If there is a breach of contract, i.e., if one of the contracting parties fails to fulfill their contractual obligations, the other party can assert claims such as improvement, compensation for damages, or rescission of the contract. These are referred to as performance disturbances.