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LG Bonn on access to WhatsApp messages

As we all know, two blue check marks on WhatsApp mean that a message has not only arrived on the recipient’s device, but that the message has also been opened. But what does this mean for lawyers?

Well, under civil law, this leads to the assumption that the message has been received from this point in time at the latest, according to a recent decision by the Bonn Regional Court.

In the case to be decided, the vendor of a
in August 2019 withdrew from the purchase contract due to non-payment of the purchase price. In this context, he asked the buyer to name three binding dates for a house inspection. The latter named two possible dates via WhatsApp. Shortly thereafter, the seller filed an application for granting a right of access and inspection, claiming to have become aware of the WhatsApp message only in the course of the proceedings. The purchaser acknowledged the claim but did not want to bear the costs of the proceedings. The Bonn Regional Court agreed with this legal opinion.

The court stated that a declaration of intent is received when it reaches the recipient in such a way that the recipient has the opportunity to take note of the content of the declaration under normal circumstances. According to this, WhatsApp messages are delivered when they reach the recipient’s device and are stored there permanently and retrievable under normal circumstances and the recipient had in principle opened this communication channel.

It can therefore only be advisable to carefully check whether and which messages are received via WhatsApp or to clearly designate the permissible communication channels in agreements and contracts.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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