Contract law for work and services is part of civil law and includes all legal provisions that affect the legal relationship between the customer and the contractor within the framework of a contract for work.

The contract for work is one of the special contract types regulated in the Civil Code; the law on contracts for work is therefore regulated in detail in Sections 631 ff. of the Civil Code. In work contract law, the contractor is obliged to produce a specific work, which means – unlike, for example, service contracts – the achievement of a certain success is owed in work contract law. If the work to be produced is a movable item, there is often a so-called work delivery contract in accordance with Section 651 of the German Civil Code (BGB). In this case, the sales law (§ 433 ff. BGB) and not the contract law applies.

Typische Werkverträge im Werkvertragsrecht sind unter anderem:

  • Repairs/maintenance
  • Transport services (e.g. taxi, train, plane)
  • Spiritual works
  • Intangible objects (e.g. software)
  • Works of art (e.g. pictures)
  • Buildings (immovable property)
  • customized, non-fungible works
  • Appraise


In contrast to other mutual contracts, the contractor is obliged to make advance payments under contract law; this results from Section 641 of the German Civil Code (BGB). Therefore, there are a number of regulations in work contract law that protect the contractor, such as the contractor’s lien on the customer’s items, see Section 647 of the German Civil Code (BGB).

Special provisions also apply in contract law regarding the purchaser’s warranty rights for defects, see Sections 634 ff. of the German Civil Code (BGB). In addition to supplementary performance, under contract law for work and services, in particular in accordance with Sections 634 No. 2 and 637 of the German Civil Code (BGB), the purchaser can, after a grace period has expired without success, have the defect remedied himself (or have it remedied) and demand reimbursement of the costs required for this (doing it himself).

On the following pages we will try to provide you with as much information as possible about the basic principles of contract law.

We also recommend the following pages on the subject of contract law: