Rechtsprechung

  • Rechtssachenbeschreibung
    • Nationale Kennung: 4 Ob 73/03v
    • Mitgliedstaat: Österreich
    • Gebräuchliche Bezeichnung:N/A
    • Art des Beschlusses: Sonstiges
    • Beschlussdatum: 24/06/2003
    • Gericht: Oberster Gerichtshof
    • Betreff:
    • Kläger:
    • Beklagter:
    • Schlagworte: Rechtsprechung Österreich Deutsch
  • Artikel der Richtlinie
    Unfair Contract Terms Directive, ANNEX I, 1.
  • Leitsatz
    1.Die Zinsanpassungsklausel, wonach eine Bank berechtigt ist, den vereinbarten Zinssatz in einem angemessenen Ausmaß abzuändern, wenn sich das Zinsniveau für Einlagen oder auf dem Geldmarkt oder Kapitalmarkt verändert, beziehungsweise kreditpolitische oder währungspolitische Maßnahmen Änderungen auf dem Kreditmarkt bewirken, ist mangels ausreichender Bestimmtheit ungültig.
    2.Kein Anspruchsverzicht der Kläger durch vorbehaltlose Rückzahlung eines Kredits während des Verfahrens.
    3. Beim Gültigkeitserfordernis des § 6 Abs 1 Z 5 KSchG, dass die für die Erhöhung maßgebenden Umstände im Vertrag umschrieben werden, ist zu fragen, wie konkret jener Lebenssachverhalt (die „Umstände“) festzulegen ist, der einer Vertragspartei (dem Grunde nach) die Berechtigung zur Vertragsänderung gibt, und wie präzise für den anderen Vertragspartner das Ausmaß der Vertragsänderung (der Höhe nach) rechnerisch nachvollziehbar sein muss.
    4. Eine Vertragsklausel entspricht nur dann dem in § 6 Abs 1 Z 5 KSchG enthaltenen Erfordernis einer klaren Umschreibung der zur Zinsenerhöhung berechtigenden Umstände, wenn in ihr der maßgebliche Sachverhalt hinreichend deutlich, eindeutig und unmissverständlich – und nicht nur nach Art einer Generalklausel – beschrieben wird; dazu kommt weiters, dass bei Bezugnahme auf verschiedene Umstände deren Verhältnis zueinander (kumulative oder alternative Verwirklichung als Abänderungserfordernis) festzulegen ist.
    5. Eine Vertragsklausel ist im Lichte des § 6 Abs 1 Z 5 KSchG nur dann wirksam, wenn sie (bei einer Betrachtung ex ante) hinreichend deutlich erkennen lässt, innerhalb welcher Grenzen die Zinsenveränderung vorgenommen werden darf, um so den Gestaltungsspielraum der zur Anpassung berechtigten Vertragspartei festzulegen und willkürliches Handeln zu Lasten der anderen Vertragspartei auszuschließen.
  • Sachverhalt
    In April 1991, the plaintiffs signed a credit agreement with the defendant (a bank) for 700,000 Austrian Schillings over a 15-year period with an interest rate of 10%. Between September 1991 and July 1993, the defendant increased and reduced the interest rate on several occasions, citing an interest rate adjustment clause (see headnote 1). It based these adjustments on a number of different parameters, including the general level of interest rates on the capital market and, in particular, rates of return on the secondary market. In July 1993, the outstanding credit was increased to 820.000 Austrian Schillings over a 20-year period with an interest rate of 9.5%.
    In August 2000, the Styrian Chamber of Workers carried out a sample credit calculation and came to the conclusion that the plaintiffs had lost in excess of 14,000 euros because the bank had failed to apply fully falls in interest rates. The plaintiffs thus made a claim against the defendant for the additional interest they had paid. They argued that the interest rate adjustment clause used in the credit agreements between 1991 and 1993 had not provided the necessary definitions and was therefore in breach of the KSchG. Moreover, the parameters used in calculating the interest rates were not transparent and the defendant had failed both to pass on falls in interest rates to the plaintiffs and to use equitable discretion in adjusting the interest rate.
    The defendant applied for the case to be dismissed. It argued that the plaintiffs’ right to make a claim had already passed as the 3-year time limit laid down in § 1480 ABGB applied in this case. Furthermore, by failing to query the calculations on the balance statements, the plaintiffs were agreeing de facto to the interest rates. During the trial, the plaintiffs repaid the outstanding credit. The defendant argued that the plaintiffs had in effect acknowledged the defendant’s entitlement to the monies by doing so.
    The Court of First Instance rejected the claim. The Court of Appeal quashed this verdict and ordered a retrial in the Court of First Instance.
  • Rechtsfrage
  • Entscheidung

    The OGH did not uphold the defendant’s appeal.
    With regards to the defendant’s argument that the plaintiffs’ repayment claim was invalid because the time limit had passed, the OGH concurred that, in line with § 1480 ABGB, the short 3-year time limit did apply. It supported this view by referring, inter alia, to the fact that a claim could be made for repayment of overpaid rent only within a 3-year period. The OGH did not see any reason why a borrower should be better placed than a tenant.
    In terms of the defendant’s objection that the plaintiffs had effectively acknowledged the validity of the interest rates, the OGH reiterated the view it had expressed during an enhanced court session in 2001. Hence, if there was no complaint made about the bank statement within the time limit typically specified in banks’ standard terms and conditions, the acceptance of the balance that this implied had, as a rule, only a declarative effect. There was only constitutive acknowledgement if there was actually a serious dispute (or doubt) to be settled. In the case in question, it could not be assumed from the facts of the case that there was a serious dispute between the two parties or any doubt over the bank’s entitlement to apply the credit rates. The fact that the plaintiff had repeatedly requested a reduction in the interest rate was not sufficient. Moreover, the fact that the plaintiffs had repaid the credit in advance and in total during the legal proceedings did not mean that they had conclusively forgone their right to make a claim. The Supreme Court reaffirmed that § 863 ABGB uses a strict yardstick for determining whether one party has acted conclusively – it must be beyond reasonable doubt. Moreover, it urges particular caution in the case of one party silently waiving their right to make a claim. In the case in question, these conditions had not been met.
    The OGH ultimately concluded that the interest rate adjustment clause in question was invalid on the grounds that the circumstances triggering an adjustment were not properly defined. Thus, it adhered to the principles outlined in headnotes 3 to 5. Given that the contract agreed by the two parties was now partially invalid, it was necessary, in view of the lack of any provisions in law, to amend the contract. This required the hypothetical agreement of the party in question. Since the OGH did not have access to the requisite facts in order to assess this, it upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling.

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