A contractor from Bochum is not paid for renovation work in Düsseldorf. Although he and also the client denied this, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court was convinced, among other things on the basis of a WhatsApp message, that the parties had entered into a so-called “black money agreement”.
For this reason, the 21st civil senate of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court ruled that the building contractor was not entitled to any remuneration for work. On the contrary, the underlying contract violated Section 1 of the German Black Labor Act (SchwarzArbG) because the parties had agreed that the work was to be performed without the issuance of an invoice and by reducing the remuneration for the work by the value-added tax.
In 2016 and 2017, the contractor had performed extensive renovation work for the client in Düsseldorf. During the construction work, the paid to the contractor without invoice several hundred thousand euros as down payments. Regarding another progress payment, the contractor asked via WhatsApp to split the payment by bank transfer to two different accounts, “so that not so much to the eyes of F…. comes”.
After completion of the work, the contractor said he was still entitled to around 275,000 euros, which he sued for. The lawsuit failed because of the black money agreement: the Senate was convinced that “F….” in the WhatsApp message had meant the tax office. This was supported not only by the further circumstances, but also by the fact that the building contractor became entangled in contradictions when he tried to explain who should have been meant instead.