BGH judgment: fitness studios must reimburse contributions

Status: 04/05/2022 2:54 p.m.

If a fitness studio has been closed due to corona, it must reimburse its members for the dues for this period. This was decided by the Federal Court of Justice – and thus confirmed previous judgments.

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe has made a historic decision for many people interested in sports: fitness studios must reimburse their customers for the contributions for the months in which the studio was closed due to corona . Germany’s highest civil court ruled that the contract could not be extended due to “disruption of the business base”.

BGH: The purpose of a fitness contract is regular sport

The reason given was that the purpose of a gym contract was regular physical activity. If the operator can no longer grant access, the purpose of the contract cannot be achieved. This service due cannot be recovered due to the passage of time.

The studio also has no right to adapt the contract to the new circumstances and to extend the term. The BGH justified this, among other things, by the fact that the legislator had already issued a special regulation to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic, which is taking place here: According to this, the organizers can temporarily issue vouchers, but not adjustments of contract.

It was about this case of Lower Saxony

In the specific case, the client of a fitness studio in Lower Saxony had concluded a two-year contract with the studio from December 2019. The monthly fee was 29.90 euros. However, between March 16 and June 4, 2020 the gym was closed due to the corona lockdown. In May, the customer then terminated the contract with effect from December 2021 – and demanded the membership fees for the closed three months. However, the studio was unwilling to refund the money or issue a voucher. Instead, he offered credit for appropriate training time – that is, a contract extension. But the applicant did not want this. In total it was around 87 euros.

Two courts have come to this conclusion.

The district court in Papenburg had agreed with the man and obliged the fitness studio to refund the contributions. However, the gym didn’t want to accept the decision and appealed. But the Osnabrück district court also ruled in favor of the man. Now the BGH has confirmed the Osnabrück verdict.

(Az.XII ZR 64/21)

With information from Gigi Deppe, ARD Legal Department

BGH: Paying for the gym in times of Corona?

Gigi Deppe, SWR, 4.5.2022 3:19 p.m.

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