Settlement of Joint Debt When one alone Caused the Damages

What can you do, when your partner in the business of several persons goofed something up and thereupon your company was successfully sued. Does the whole company have to come up for this debt? Cannot the Goofy of the company pay for this all alone? The Federal Court of Justice instructed with its judgment of June 09, 2008 (re II ZR 268/07) on the rights.


In the reported case, the partnership was of physicians in a joint practice. They claimed that only the partner who did wrong was exclusively to be held liable because the general rules do not apply to physicians.

The court held that partners in business are partners in debt - joint debtors. There are no special rules for any profession. When the partners share profit and losses per capita, the partners will also be internally liable in the same relation as they share profit and loss (§426 BGB). However, something will be applicable when one person exclusively causes the damage. Following the doctrine in §254 BGB, whoever contributes the damages solely by his own hand, will also be held liable. This can lead - internally - to the sole liability for the partner who caused the damages when dealing with his other partners.

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