"Legal tech contract generator" only permitted with lawyer's licence

The Cologne Regional Court has forbidden Wolters Kluwer Deutschland GmbH,

- with its "smartlaw" contract generator to provide legal seekers with "lawyer-quality legal documents in lawyer quality" and

- to the "smartlaw" contract generator provides "legally compliant contracts in lawyer quality" or "more individual and more secure than any template and cheaper than a lawyer".

What was the background to the trial?

Wolters Kluwer Deutschland GmbH offers with its "smartlaw" contract generator for the creation of all types of contracts. kind of contracts. The "smartlaw" contract generator uses a "question-and-answer" procedure to determine the the most suitable contract for the user. In its general terms and conditions, Wolters Kluwer Deutschland GmbH makes it clear that it provides a publishing product, but does not but does not provide legal advice.

The Hanseatic Bar Association of Hamburg Bar Association brought an action against this offer. It is of the opinion that the "smartlaw" contract generator inadmissibly promises a service that is comparable to the comparable to the services of a lawyer, but cheaper. The service is not comparable comparable to that of a lawyer, because the lawyer has to carry out a legal individual case and to clarify and examine the relevant facts. examine the relevant facts. It is precisely this concrete examination of individual cases that the the "smartlaw" contract generator, despite its "question and answer" procedure. offer. Due to the nature of legal services, this activity would require a lawyer's a licence to practise as a lawyer or legitimation by the Legal Services Act (RDG). The specific advertising of the "smartlaw" contract generator was also inadmissible.

What was the decision of the Cologne Regional Court?

The Regional Court of Cologne justified its decision as follows:

A legal-tech contract generator sets a admission to the bar or a legitimation according to the RDG is required

The Regional Court of Cologne followed the legal opinion of the plaintiff, that the "smartlaw" contract generator is a legal service. is a legal service. However, the defendant is neither admitted to the bar nor does it have any legitimation under the RDG. nor does it have a legitimation according to the RDG. The restriction in the defendant's general terms and conditions The Cologne Regional Court considered the restriction in the defendant's terms and conditions to be irrelevant.

The defendant's advertising is inadmissible

The Regional Court of Cologne held that the advertising statements of the the "smartlaw" contract generator delivered "legally secure contracts in lawyer quality" or "more individual and more secure than any template and more cheaper than a lawyer" as inadmissible. These statements would give the customer the customer the impression that he would receive a quality of legal service that would be comparable to that of a lawyer. This is not This is not the case, because the preparation and clarification of the facts required by a lawyer as well as the legal examination in the individual case does not take place.

Source: Judgment LG Köln of 08.10.2019, Az. 33 O 35/19

GoldbergUllrich Attorneys at Law 2019

Julius Oberste-Dommes LL.M. (Information Law)

Lawyer and

Specialist lawyer for information technology law