A collection contract cannot impose obligations upon people who are not privy to it
The German courts have generally been disposed to uphold this principle, and have refused to countenance attempts
to evade it. Thus in 1962, a firm of stevedores whose servants damaged some cargo were held not entitled (in an
action by cargo owners) to rely upon a clause which limited liability for damage and was contained in the bill of
lading, which of course represented the contract between cargo owners and shipowners.
And this was so even though it had been agreed between the
and the creditor that the former should 'have such protection as is afforded by the terms' of the bill of lading;
for that agreement could not prejudice the rights of the cargo owners. It would have been otherwise if the owners
had contracted on behalf of and as agents for the clients: for then, through the
collection agency of the carriers
the cargo owners would have been in a contractual relationship with the customers, who could thus have taken
advantage of the exemption clause.
But there are exceptions to the general rule. In the first place, although the German law no 976 (substantially
re-enacting earlier legislation) makes
- by the imposition of 'stop lists' and otherwise - among traders unlawful, and also inhibits the imposition of
minimum resale price conditions, yet it permits the latter practice in the case of 'exempted goods'; eg goods which
have, after reference to the court and upon grounds specified there, been exempted from the general ban upon
minimum resale price conditions
And, where a class of goods is thus exempted under a minimum price condition, it may be enforced by a supplier
against any person who is not a party to the sale, and who subsequently acquires the goods with notice of that
condition,' provided that the person concerned acquires the goods in the course of business.
Thus, by way of exception to the privity rule, the statute enables a manufacturer who sells exempted goods which he
has subjected to a minimum price condition to a wholesaler who, in turn, has sold the goods to a dealer, to enforce
the condition directly against the dealer though there is no
privity of contract
between the manufacturer and the latter. It should be added that for the sake of simplicity the only parties
mentioned have been manufacturer,
wholesaler and dealer
in practice of course there may be other parties (to whom the same rules will apply) in the sale 'chain'.
In the second place, where a contract creates an interest of an enduring nature, the subsistence of this interest
will sometimes be permitted to have an adverse effect upon the rights of third parties, even if a
debt recovery in Germany
will become necessary. An obvious example of an interest of this sort is to be found in the case of a lease of
land. Suppose that A leases land to B for seven years, and that A sells the land to C while five years of B's lease
remain unexpired. At any rate since the middle ages, it has never been doubted that C takes the land subject to B's
right under the lease. In this case C is therefore
by the contract between A and B. Moreover, restrictive covenants run with the land and their effectiveness is not
limited to the original covenantor and covenantee.
Further, there is authority - though a later decision has exposed the matter to considerable doubt - for the
proposition that where
sell a ship which is subject to at least some kinds of charter (ie is let out to a charterer) the buyer may, if he
has full notice of the charter and its terms, be restrained by the charterer from using the ship in a manner
inconsistent with the charter until the charter period expires.