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Artikelbilder zu "OLG Hamburg entscheidet: Nur Rechtsanwälte dürfen Bewertungen mit juristischen Begründungen entfernen"

OLG Hamburg decides: Only lawyers may remove reviews with legal justifications

Background of the case

In its ruling (5 U 25/233), the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg made an important decision concerning the deletion of internet reviews. The focus was on two companies that objected to and deleted negative internet reviews for clients without a license to practice law or permission under the Legal Services Act.

Core of the judgment and its justification

In its ruling, the court made it clear that objecting to customer reviews, if it is based on legal grounds, constitutes a legal service requiring a license. These activities are reserved exclusively for lawyers and may not be carried out by persons without appropriate legal qualifications. Complaints about ratings require a detailed legal examination of each individual case. This examination involves the precise analysis and application of the relevant legal provisions to the specific facts of the case, which goes far beyond a general or schematic application of legal norms. The court emphasized that such an examination requires sound legal knowledge in order to be able to correctly assess the legal scope and consequences of each evaluation.

The role of the messenger

The ruling by the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg makes a significant distinction with regard to the role of messenger activity in the objection to internet reviews. It is explicitly clarified that a service in the area of complaints about reviews is only permissible if it is limited exclusively to a messenger activity and the reason for the removal of the review comes directly from the customer. This specific form of messenger activity, in which a service provider merely acts as a transmitter of the reasons formulated by the client, does not fall under the category of legal services requiring a license.

The court emphasizes that pure messenger activity represents a clear distinction from legal services requiring a license. In this context, the service provider does not act as a legal advisor or auditor, but solely as a mediator of the client’s concerns. This activity does not require any legal assessment or interpretation by the service provider itself. Instead, the justification provided by the customer is forwarded to the rating portals without any changes or additional legal assessments.

The ruling also underlines the need for companies that want to check reviews for illegality and object to them to make use of legal expertise. It clarifies the protective function of the Legal Services Act for legal transactions and the legal system by preventing the provision of unqualified legal services. For companies, this means that they have to adapt their services accordingly. Independent legal justifications or examinations are not permitted without the required authorization. However, they can act in the role of a messenger by forwarding the reasons provided by the customer unchanged to the rating portals.

Conclusion

The ruling of the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg sends a clear signal for the protection of legal services and emphasizes the importance of legal professionalism. It clarifies that the boundary between legal services requiring a license and permissible messenger activities is decisive. Companies operating in this area must ensure that they do not provide unauthorized legal services by carrying out independent legal audits or reasoning. However, the role of the messenger, who merely forwards the arguments originating from the customer, remains a permissible practice.

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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