Can a Lender Ever Be Sued?

Interest clauses in savings contracts illegal: this is how you get your money

In the 1990s and 2000s in particular, many savings banks, Volks- and Raiffeisenbanks and private banks sold long-term savings contracts. Many of these contracts contain clauses that are illegal. Market interest rates have fallen significantly in recent years. As a result, the banks have regularly adjusted the savings rates on the contracts downwards, in some cases to as low as 0.01 or 0.001 percent. In doing so, they rely on a clause which is intended to entitle them to adjust the interest rates. The unilateral interest rate adjustment can result in customers too little interest credited were. You should check the clause and have it recalculated and you can expect an additional payment.

Which contracts are you talking about?

The contracts concerned are savings contracts or Riester bank savings plans, for example under the name

  • "Bonus plan" (Volks- and Raiffeisenbank)
  • "Flexible premium savings" (Savings bank)
  • "VorsorgePlus" (Savings bank)
  • "Retirement savings" (Savings bank)
  • "Asset plan" (Savings bank)
  • "VRFuture" (Volks- and Raiffeisenbank)
  • "Pension plan" (Savings bank)
  • "Scala" (Savings bank)

were evicted. You can also use a simple one-way route to unlawful interest rate clauses Passbook with sticker and extra interest agreement Find.

Long-term savings contracts with variable interest rates that are in the Completed in the 1990s and 2000s were. This is shown by persistent complaints from consumers to the consumer advice centers and the market monitoring experts.

The interest on these contracts usually consists of two agreements:

  1. One variable base rate and
  2. an agreed one bonus (Bonus).

The base rate is the rate at which the respective credit is paid annually. The saver receives the premium in addition; it is higher the longer the savings contract is in place. As a rule, it was not paid out, but added to the capital. The incentive of such contracts is clear: customers are bound to long-term contracts with a promise.

Illegal interest rate adjustment clause

A variable basic interest rate - i.e. an interest rate that can be adjusted by the bank to the general interest rate development on the market - is common for many contracts. Such an agreement must, however, especially for long-term contracts, be transparent. After all, with long-term contracts, consumers do not have the option or it does not make economic sense for them to switch to another offer with better interest rates at short notice.

In many of these old contracts, however, there are agreements (so-called sliding interest rate clauses, interest rate change clauses or interest rate adjustment clauses) that illegal are. Such unlawful clauses allow banks to adjust the interest rate at their own discretion, which is usually at the expense of the customer: you get too little interest credited!

The Federal Court of Justice has declared such contractual clauses inadmissible in several proceedings (Az. XI ZR 361/01, Az. XI ZR 140/03, Az. XI ZR 52/08, Az. XI ZR 197/09). The BGH last ruled in March 2017 (XI ZR 508/15): The corresponding clause of a savings bank is not effective because consumers cannot understand how interest rates change. There is a risk that the savings bank will change the interest rates in the course of the contract for its own benefit. The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) pointed out in the BaFinJournal 02/2020 that ignoring the jurisprudence and deliberately continuing to use the ineffective clauses without comment is seen as a grievance in which the BaFin can intervene.

Which banks are affected?

The consumer advice centers have already legally checked thousands of contracts nationwide. The following providers presented savings contracts with ineffective interest rate adjustment clauses to the consumer centers. We cannot say whether the institutions still refer to these clauses today, whether they have agreed new clauses with their customers or whether they are simply using new clauses without ever having agreed them with their customers, which is inadmissible. But watch out: if your Sparkasse or your bank does not show up, that does not mean that there are no contracts with incorrect interest rate adjustment clauses. It is quite possible that the consumer advice centers have simply not yet checked a contract with the institute.

federal state

Name of the product

Name of institute of credit

Baden-Wuerttemberg

BBBank-SparPlus

BBBank eG
Baden-WuerttembergVR-Sparconcept FixVolksbank Breisgau-Markgräflerland eG

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Express 2000, Vermögenssparen Plus

BW Bank

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Pension plan

Heidelberger Volksbank

Baden-WuerttembergFlexible premium savingsKreissparkasse Heidenheim

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Scala provision

Kreissparkasse Heilbronn

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Pension Plus

Kreissparkasse Tübingen

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Scala

Kreissparkasse Waiblingen

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Pension plan

Raiffeisenbank Südhardt

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Bodensee

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings, VorsorgePlus

Sparkasse Bonndorf-Stühlingen

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Retirement savings

Sparkasse Freiburg-Nördlicher Breisgau

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Haslach-Zell

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Hegau-Bodensee

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Heidelberg

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Hochrhein

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Karlsruhe

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Kraichgau

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Millennium savings contract

Sparkasse Kraichgau Bruchsal-Bretten-Sinsheim

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Loerrach-Rheinfelden

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Neckartal-Odenwald

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings, incremental savings

Sparkasse Offenburg / Ortenau

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Pforzheim Calw

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Pension Plus

Sparkasse Pfullendorf-Messkirch

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible savings, flexible savings

Sparkasse Rhein Neckar Nord

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Schwarzwald-Baar

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Staufen-Breisach

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Tauberfranken

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Scala, VorsorgePlus

Sparkasse Ulm

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Pension Plus

Sparkasse Günzburg-Krumbach

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Mission Bonus Savings Plan

Steyler Bank

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Target savings plan

Volksbank Main-Tauber

Baden-Wuerttemberg

future

VR Bank Neckar-Enz

Baden-Wuerttemberg

VR target saving

VR Bank Ostalb

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Bonus plan

VR Bank Rhein-Neckar

Baden-Wuerttemberg

VR bonus plan

Volksbank Buhl

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Kelheim

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Traunstein-Trostberg

Bavaria

Pension plan

Raiffeisenbank Bibertgrund

Bavaria

Sparda Multi savings plan

Sparda-Bank Munich

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Allgäu

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Amberg-Sulzbach

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Bad Neustadt a. d. Saale

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Bamberg

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Bayreuth

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Coburg-Lichtenfels

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Deggendorf

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Erding-Dorfen

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Freyung-Grafenau

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Fürstenfeldbruck

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse in the Cham district

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse in the district of Neustadt a.d. Aisch

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse in the district of Schwandorf

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Ingolstadt Eichstätt

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Kulmbach-Kronach

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Landshut

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Mainfranken Würzburg

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Miltenberg-Obernburg

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Mittelfranken-Süd

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Neumarkt-Parsberg

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Neu-Ulm

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Niederbayern-Mitte

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Nuremberg

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Oberland

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Oberpfalz Nord

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Passau

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Regensburg

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Rosenheim-Bad Aibling

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Rottal-Inn

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

City and District Savings Bank Erlangen Höchstadt

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Stadtsparkasse Augsburg

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Stadtsparkasse Dachau

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

Stadtsparkasse Munich

Bavaria

Flexible premium savings

United Savings Banks Eschenbach i.d.OPf. Neustadt a.d.Waldnaab Vohenstrauß

Bavaria

Pension plan

VR-Bank Augsburg-Ostallgäu

Berlin

Retirement savings

Berliner Sparkasse

Brandenburg

Flexible retirement savings

Mittelbrandenburgische Sparkasse in Potsdam

BrandenburgFlexible premium savings
 
Sparkasse Barnim
BrandenburgFlexible premium savings
 
Sparkasse Elbe-Elster

Brandenburg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Märkisch-Oderland

Brandenburg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Oder-Spree

Brandenburg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Ostprignitz-Ruppin

Brandenburg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Prignitz

Brandenburg

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Schwedt

Brandenburg

Flexible premium savings, premium savings plan

Sparkasse Spree-Neisse

Bremen

Flexible premium savings

The Sparkasse in Bremen

Bremen

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Wesermünde-Hadeln

Hesse

Asset plan

Frankfurter Sparkasse

Hesse

Asset plan

District Savings Bank Groß-Gerau

Hesse

Savings contract

nassauische savings Bank

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Flexible premium savings

Müritz Sparkasse

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Neubrandenburg-Demmin

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Grafschaft Diepholz

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Walsrode

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Duderstadt

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Einbeck

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Münden

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Osnabrück

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Rotenburg Osterholz

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Uelzen Lüchow-Dannenberg

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkassse Hameln-Weserbergland

Lower Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Stadtsparkasse Bad Pyrmont

Lower Saxony

Retirement savings

Stadtsparkasse Wunstorf

NRW

S-premium savings contract flexible

Kreissparkasse Halle (Westphalia)

NRW

Flexible retirement savings

Sparda-Bank West

NRW

Retirement savings

Sparkasse Aachen

NRW

Premium savings

Sparkasse Bergkamen-Bönen

NRW

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Dortmund

NRW

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Gelsenkirchen

NRW

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Hamm

NRW

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse KölnBonn

NRW

Premium savings

Sparkasse Minden-Lübbecke

NRW

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Mühlheim an der Ruhr

NRW

Pension Plus

Sparkasse Münsterland Ost

NRW

Premium savings

Sparkasse Schwerte

NRW

Premium savings

Sparkasse Siegen

NRW

Pension Plus

Kreissparkasse Westmünsterland

NRW

Premium savings

Municipal savings bank to Schwelm

NRW

Bonus plan

Volksbank Südmünsterland-Mitte

Rhineland-Palatinate

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Birkenfeld

Rhineland-Palatinate

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Bitburg-Prüm

Rhineland-Palatinate

VorsorgePlus, flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Kaiserslautern

Rhineland-Palatinate

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Westerwald-Sieg

Rhineland-Palatinate

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Germersheim Kandel

Rhineland-Palatinate

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Rhein-Haardt

Rhineland-Palatinate

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Rhein-Hunsrück

Rhineland-Palatinate

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Südwestpfalz

Rhineland-Palatinate

Bonus plan

United VR Bank Kur- und Rheinpfalz

Rhineland-Palatinate

Bonus plan

Volksbank Kaiserslautern

Saarland

S trend

Kreissparkasse Saarpfalz

Saarland

Flexible premium savings

District savings bank St. Wendel

Saarland

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Saarbrücken

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Erzgebirgssparkasse

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Ostsächsische Sparkasse Dresden

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Bautzen

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Döbeln

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Chemnitz

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Leipzig

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Meißen

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Savings Bank Central Saxony

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Muldental

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Oberlausitz-Lower Silesia

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Vogtland

Saxony

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Zwickau

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible asset savings, flexible premium savings

Harz Savings Bank

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Anhalt-Bitterfeld

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Börde

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Kreissparkasse Stendal

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Saalesparkasse

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Salzlandsparkasse

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Altmark West

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Burgenlandkreis

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Jerichower Land

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Mansfeld-Südharz

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Sparkasse Wittenberg

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Stadtsparkasse Dessau

Saxony-Anhalt

Flexible premium savings

Stadtsparkasse Magdeburg

Schleswig-Holstein

Flexible premium savings

Förde-Sparkasse

Schleswig-Holstein

Flexible premium savings

Nord-Ostsee Sparkasse

Thuringia

S-premium savings flexible

Kreissparkasse Eichsfeld

Thuringia

MEGA savings plan

District savings bank Saale-Orla

Thuringia

S-Vermögensplan

Sparkasse Jena-Saale-Holzland

Thuringia

Asset plan

Sparkasse Mittelthüringen

Thuringia

Retirement savings

Wartburg Sparkasse

Anyone who has a savings contract with a basic interest rate and a premium or bonus should take a closer look at their contract. If the name of the product appears in the above list, the chances are good that it contains an illegal clause and that you can claim interest. Otherwise, take a look at the clause in the contract: If it allows the bank to simply change the interest rate without you being able to understand exactly how the interest rate change should take place, or if it does not contain any agreement on this, this could be an indication. If in doubt, ask your consumer advice center.

How much money is it and what can I do?

If you suspect that you have a contract with incorrect interest rate adjustments, you should ask your bank to explain the interest calculation and, if necessary, to carry out a new statement. Our sample letter will help you with this.

The consumer advice centers have already checked and recalculated over 5000 long-term savings contracts from various banks and savings banks. Consumers have in the recalculated cases in the opinion of the consumer advice centers received an average of around 4000 euros too little interest. At the top, consumer advice centers have a claim by consumers against their credit institute calculated at around 78,000 euros.

The results from the state of Baden-Württemberg have been published. The study "Change in interest rates in savings contracts" can be downloaded here. The results can also be found in brief in the "Interest rate adjustment" fact sheet from the Baden-Württemberg consumer advice center.

Legal procedures of consumer advice centers

The consumer advice centers have now become active against a number of savings banks as well as Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken, against some of them as part of the option of a model lawsuit created at the end of 2018.

Numerous consumers have already joined such proceedings, the last time another lawsuit was filed in January 2021. An overview:


Against 20 savings banks and Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken In various federal states, the consumer advice center Baden-Württemberg has already taken legal action successfully with the result that the financial institutions had to undertake not to invoke the interest rate adjustment clause complained about. Further procedures are still open (as of January 2021).


The consumer center Saxony is currently in a model declaratory action against the Stadt- und Kreissparkasse Leipzig, the Erzgebirgssparkasse, the Sparkasse Zwickau, the Sparkasse Vogtland, the Sparkasse Muldental and the Sparkasse Meißen determine the interest rate adjustment clauses and the correct interest rate adjustment that are in their opinion ineffective.

The lawsuit registers for the Sparkassen Vogtland, Muldental and Meißen have now been opened and interested parties can now join it (as of January 2021). You can get information and support with the entry in the complaint register from the consumer center Saxony.

The first judgments have now been made against the savings banks in Leipzig, Zwickau and the Erzgebirgssparkasse. On April 22nd, June 17th and September 9th, 2020, the Higher Regional Court of Dresden essentially confirmed the opinion of the Consumer Advice Center Saxony (e.g. Az 5 MK 1/19 and AZ 5 MK 1/20, both not yet legally binding). The court assumes that the interest rate adjustment clause is ineffective. The resulting loophole in the savings contracts must be filled in the individual lawsuits of the individual consumers. The requests to define the principles of interest rate adjustment in a binding manner were only partially met. Nevertheless, the presiding judge expressed his opinion on the adjustment criteria. Accordingly, a long-term reference interest rate - such as the one proposed by the Sachsen consumer organization - and the relative interest rate adjustment are to be used as a benchmark.

Furthermore, the plaintiff's view was confirmed that the statute of limitations only begins with the termination of the savings contract. As a result, the recalculation of interest must go back to the start of the contract.


On July 1, 2020, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) filed a model declaratory action against the Saalesparkasse submitted. The resident in Halle / Saale Saalesparkasse has paid premium savers in the opinion of the vzbv too low interest for years. Interested consumers can still register to participate (as of January 2021). The consumer center Saxony-Anhalt has also switched an information phone.


The vzbv and the Bavarian Consumer Center also have a model lawsuit against the Sparkasse Nuremberg submitted. The Sparkasse Nuremberg had started in 2019 to terminate their customers premium savings contracts with the designation "Premium savings flexible". From the point of view of the Bavarian Consumer Center, however, these terminations were made illegally in many cases. In addition, the consumer center assumes that Sparkasse Nürnberg has paid its customers in these savings contracts on average around 4200 euros too little interest up to the time of termination. Interested consumers can now register to participate (as of January 2021). You can get information and support with the entry in the complaint register at the consumer center Bavaria.

On January 22, 2021, there is also a model lawsuit against Stadtsparkasse Munich has been submitted. The lawsuit register was opened on March 4, 2021, you can now register to participate (as of March 2021). Information on the lawsuit as well as an information phone and the option to subscribe to a news alert about further developments can also be found at the Bavarian Consumer Center.


The consumer center Brandenburg is planning a model lawsuit against the Sparkasse Barnim. Information can be found here.


 

Examples of illegal interest rate clauses

Interest at time x, xx% variable.

The interest rate is currently x, xxx%.

The savings deposit is variable, currently with x.xx% interest.

At the end of a calendar year, the Sparkasse pays the interest on the premium savings contract announced in the course of the year, currently x.xxx%.

The savings deposit bears variable interest. The currently valid interest rate is announced on the notice board.

The interest rate stated in the price notice applies.

The currently valid interest rate is posted in the cash register.

[no interest rate mentioned in the contract] The conditions as shown in the notice in the cash register apply.

The currently valid interest rate will be announced in the business premises of the bank's account-keeping office.

The currently valid interest rate is announced on the notice board. Its height is currently x.xx%.

The savings bank pays in addition to the applicable interest rate, currently x, xx%, at the end of a savings year a (non) interest-bearing premium ...

Interest is currently paid on the saved credit at x.xxx%. The bank can adjust this interest rate to changed market conditions. The bank announces the applicable interest rate in the price notice.

The Sparkasse pays an additional interest (bonus) in addition to the interest rate (basic interest rate) applicable to the Scala retirement savings plan.

The Sparkasse pays a variable, capital-dependent interest rate for the savings balance (current interest rates and tiered contributions, see special notice).

During the savings phase, the savings balance of the saver is subject to variable interest at currently X.xx% p.a. (base interest). A change comes into effect when the price notice is changed.

[no interest rate specified in the contract] In addition to the interest rate posted on the notice for savings deposits of this type, the Sparkasse pays a non-interest-bearing premium upon termination of the contract ...

The interest rate on conclusion of the contract is: x.xx% pa. Provided that the monthly installment payments are made, the bank pays a variable special interest rate for the deposited balance. The bank is entitled to adjust the interest rate. It announces the respective interest rate by posting it on its business premises.

This savings deposit is currently Y% interest annually. The Sparkasse is entitled at any time to increase or decrease the interest rate it has set for savings deposits in this form of savings with immediate effect.

The saved credit is charged with a special interest rate (base rate), which is announced in the business premises of the account-keeping office of the bank. The bank can adjust the base rate to changed market conditions.

The interest rates are adjusted to the respective market conditions.

The interest rate for the savings deposit is variable and adapts to the prevailing market conditions.

The saved credit bears a special interest rate, it is currently X%. It can adjust the interest rate to changed market conditions.

The saved credit bears a special interest rate. This is currently X%. And can be adapted to the respective conditions on the money and capital markets. The bank announces the currently valid interest rate on a notice in its business premises.

[Initial interest rate not specified] In addition to the interest rate shown on the notice, savers receive an interest-bearing premium at the end of a savings year based on the following scale on the savings contributions made in the previous savings year.

The savings deposit earns interest at a variable base rate. The Sparkasse is entitled to reduce or increase the interest rate at any time with immediate effect in accordance with the interest rate it has set for savings deposits in this form of savings. The currently valid interest rate is announced in the price notice.

The respective total balance ... is currently paid interest according to the following, deposit-dependent graduation: The amount of the interest depends on the interest rate development on the capital market. The interest rates for the graduation are set anew in the middle of each quarter for the following period and announced by posting in the business premises of the Sparkasse.

The saved credit is currently compounded at x.xxx% p.a. (initial contractual interest rate). The bank will adjust the contractual interest rate to changed market conditions and will orient itself towards the change in the reference interest rate shown below [this is followed by a text with empty fields that are not filled in]

The special interest rate agreement for the interest rate scale applies in accordance with Section 3 from the day of payment and is subject to change in the amount of interest. [Ziff3] The interest rate for the deposit depends on the daily balance on the Vermögensparen Plus account. The amount limit and the related interest for the respective interest rate is divided into the following levels: Changes in the interest rates are announced in the "Saving is worthwhile".

Objection with statute of limitations? So defend yourself!

According to observations by the consumer advice centers, most credit institutions do not invoke the statute of limitations, but instead pay their customers interest after they have complained with our sample letter. However, some in Saxony and Bavaria, for example, also argue that claims for additional payments are already partially statute-barred. Then the following information will help you.

Basically, claims to the additional demand for interest from savings contracts according to § 195 BGB expire in the regular limitation period of 3 years. However, according to Section 199 of the German Civil Code (BGB), this limitation period begins "at the end of the year in which the claim arose and the creditor gained knowledge of the circumstances giving rise to the claim and the person of the debtor or would have to gain knowledge without gross negligence."

In the case of savings contracts, the accrued interest is credited at the end of the calendar year, added to the capital and, with this, interest is paid from the beginning of the new year. The payment claim for the total capital is only due when the contract ends. Therefore, according to our legal opinion, the limitation period cannot begin to run before the contract has been terminated. So you can still claim any additional interest payments up to three years after the balance from your savings contract has been paid out.

This means that the statute of limitations applies to your possible claims at the end of 2021, provided that the savings contract was legally terminated in 2018. From 2022, your bank or savings bank could reject a potential claim to additional payment from a contract that ended in 2018 with reference to the statute of limitations. Therefore, check to take measures in good time by the end of the year to inhibit the statute of limitations.

How can you stop the statute of limitations? There are different ways of doing this: For example, as a savings bank customer, you can submit an individual complaint to the arbitration board of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association at www.dsgv.de. Further arbitration boards can be found here (inquire in advance whether the procedure is blocking the statute of limitations). Alternatively, a court order for payment or the filing of a lawsuit also inhibits the statute of limitations.

The Federal Court of Justice has not yet commented on the question of the statute of limitations for recalculation claims for savings contracts with incorrect interest rate adjustment clauses. The legal question has not yet been finally clarified. However, from a judgment on loan agreements dated January 20, 2009 (file number XI ZR 487/07) there are good indications that the three-year limitation period does not begin before the end of the contract, as stated above:

"The credit relationship is a long-term obligation through which the borrower is obliged to make partial payments until it is terminated. The recalculation claim is intended to provide the borrower with the necessary knowledge of the nature of his repayment obligation for the entire term of the contract (§ VERBRKRG § 4 Abs. VERBRKRG § 4 Paragraph 1 Clause 4 No. VERBRKRG § 4 Paragraph 1 No. 1c VerbrKrG). The recalculation claim has been designed by the legislator as a (permanent) secondary obligation of the lender that exists until the end of the permanent obligation Claim before the end of the loan relationship would no longer be enforceable due to the statute of limitations. Therefore, the statute of limitations for the recalculation claim does not begin to run before the end of the loan relationship (cf. . "

Most recently, on April 22, 2020, the OLG Dresden decided the question of the statute of limitations in the sample determination procedure of the consumer center Saxony against the Stadt- und Kreissparkasse Leipzig (Az .: 5 MK 1/19). It was found that "the contractual entitlement of the defendant's customers, who are consumers, with regard to the credit from the" S-Prämiensparvertrag flexible "including the interest to be calculated according to the applications under paragraphs 2 and 3 at the earliest from the point in time the effective termination of the savings contract is due. "

This confirmed our legal opinion - as stated above.

Objection: No more documents? - That's what we think of it!

Some institutes try to fend off claims by consumers with the objection that no more documents are available. You argue with the statutory retention period, which is 10 years. We consider this objection to be advanced and incomprehensible. The statutory retention requirement relates to tax-relevant business documents. Instead, we assume that financial institutions will not destroy documents relating to ongoing contracts. A copy of the contract or the (invalidated or invalidated) savings books are sufficient to substantiate your claims.

Sample letter: have interest income recalculated

Affected customers can have the interest income recalculated and claim the missing amount from the bank. Our sample letter will help.

Attention: If your bank invokes the statute of limitations, don't let yourself get rid of! You can have the response from the bank or the subsequent billing checked by the consumer advice center.

This content was created by the consumer advice centers in Baden-Württemberg and Saxony for the network of consumer advice centers in Germany.