In its ‘Quelle’ judgment, the German Federal Court of Justice addressed the issue how national law can be interpreted and methodically developed in conformity with European directives. Most notably in its second headnote, the Court defines the requirements for a purpose-oriented reduction (teleologische Reduktion) as tool for the methodical development of law. The case concerns the sale of consumer goods (paragraph 474(1), sentence 1 BGB). It deals with the issue, whether – according to paragraph 439(4) BGB (§439(5) BGB since 1.1.2018) and paragraph 346(1) BGB – a seller delivering a replacement may require the purchaser to surrender any benefits received, or to receive compensation for the use of the defective goods.
The European Court of Justice was asked for preliminary ruling on the question, whether the seller was enjoined from claiming any such rights due to article 3(2) in conjunction with article 3(3), sentence 1 and article 3(4) or article 3(3), sentence 3 of Directive 1999/44/EG of the European Parliament and the advice of the European Council of May 25, 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of, and guarantees in respect of, consumer goods (Official Journal L 171, 07/07/1999, p. 12).
The European Court of Justice positively confirmed this question. Accordingly, the German Federal Court of Justice concluded, that – due to the principle of conformity with European law – paragraph 439(4) BGB (or §439(5) BGB since 1.1.2018) must be interpreted restrictively. Just a month after the pronouncement of judgment, the German lawmaker rendered the relevant paragraphs of the BGB accordingly. Now paragraph 474(2) BGB (now 475 (3) BGB), contain no right to claim back benefits received, or receive compensation for the use of the defective goods in case of replacement in consumer sales.
For further reading see Möllers, Juristische Methodenlehre, München 2017, § 8 Rn. 55 ff.