Conclusion of contracts
In general, these rules also apply to entrepreneurs from EU Member States in Austria.
If goods or services are offered in an online shop, this does not necessarily lead to the conclusion of a contract. It is only when a user places an order that an online shop operator can accept that offer – within a reasonable period for reflection – and a contract is concluded. The online shop operator can also reject the user’s order.
For contracts concluded with consumers by means of distance selling (which also includes online shops), the trader must comply with specific information requirements. More detailed information on this can be found in the chapter specific information requirements towards consumers.
A declaration made in the context of electronic transactions of a commercial or legal nature becomes binding only once it has been received by the contracting party. An electronic declaration is not regarded as having been received solely because it can actually be retrieved; rather, if it is received during the night or over the weekend, it is only upon the commencement of business hours that it is regarded as having been received – as is the case with other declarations.
The online shop operator can accept the contract by, for example, sending the goods, providing the service or making an express declaration. In principle, mere silence in this case is not a valid declaration of acceptance of a contract.
The online shop operator must inform the user of the following in a clear, comprehensible and unambiguous manner before declaring acceptance of the contract
- the different technical steps to follow to declare acceptance of the contract and to conclude the contract,
- the circumstance of whether or not the concluded contract will be filed by the online shop operator and, if applicable, whether or not it will be accessible,
- the technical means for identifying and correcting input errors prior to the declaration of acceptance of the contract, i.e. how the user can amend the order or input errors, and
- the languages offered for the conclusion of the contract.
The online shop operator must also indicate the voluntary codes of conduct to which he/she subscribes and information on how these codes can be consulted electronically, e.g. the Austrian E-Commerce Trust Mark.
These information requirements cannot be waived to the detriment of a consumer.
Even during the ordering process, it must be possible for the user to be able to identify and correct any input errors.
Acknowledgement of receipt
The online shop operator must acknowledge receipt of the order to the user electronically, e.g. by email, without undue delay. This should provide the user with assurance that the order has been received. Acknowledgement of receipt does not constitute acceptance of the contract by the online shop operator. It merely contains the acknowledgement of receipt of the order. However, acknowledgement of receipt can also be combined with acceptance of the offer and this gives rise to a binding contract.
The online shop operator has specific information requirements which must be communicated to a consumer in writing after the conclusion of the contract.
- Order online (→ onlinesicherheit.at)German text
- Austrian E-Commerce Trust Mark (→ guetezeichen.at)German text
- E-Commerce-Gesetz (ECG)
Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Justice