Claim for monetary compensation due to violation of personality rights is not hereditary

The plaintiff is the heir of a well-known entertainer who has since died. He felt that his right of personality had been violated by articles published in the defendant's magazines which dealt, among other things, with his grief for his deceased daughter and his state of health, and therefore filed a claim for monetary compensation against the defendant. His claim was received by the court by fax one day before his death, but was not served on the defendant until several weeks later.

The Regional Court dismissed the action, which was continued by the heir. The plaintiff's appeal was unsuccessful. Whether the challenged publications can at all justify a claim for monetary compensation under § 823 para. 1 BGB in conjunction with Art. 2 para. 1, Art. 1 para. 1 GG has not been decided by the court. The Court of Appeal left open whether the challenged publications could at all justify a claim for monetary compensation under Article 2(1) and Article 1(1) of the Basic Law. It took the view that such a claim was in any case not heritable due to its highly personal nature. The VIth Civil Senate of the Federal Court of Justice, which is responsible, inter alia, for the protection of the general right of personality. The court rejected the plaintiff's appeal.

A decisive argument against the inheritability of the claim for monetary compensation due to a serious violation of personality rights is the function of the claim. When awarding monetary compensation, the idea of satisfaction is in the foreground. The aspect of satisfaction regularly loses significance if the violation of the right of personality occurs during the lifetime of the injured party, but the latter dies before his or her claim for compensation is fulfilled. Accordingly, the claim generally does not continue beyond the death of the injured party. The idea of prevention does not justify a different result, as it is not able to support the award of monetary compensation on its own.

The senate was able to leave open whether the situation was different if the injured party died after the claim for monetary compensation had become pending, as the deceased had died before the action was served. The retroactive effect provided for in § 167 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not apply. It is limited to cases in which service is intended to preserve a running time limit or to restart or suspend the limitation period. The mere pendency of the action does not lead to the inheritability of the claim for monetary compensation.

Judgment of the BGH of 29 April 2014 - VI ZR 246/12

Lower courts:

Berlin Regional Court of 21 June 2011 - 27 O 145/11

KG Berlin of 3 May 2012 - 10 U 99/11


Source: Press release of the BGH


Goldberg Attorneys at Law 2014

Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)

Specialist lawyer for information technology law