Requirements for the application for conciliation ("Güteantrag")

The application for conciliation is not subject to any particularly strict form requirements. It does not have to be submitted in electronic form, as court orders to pay ("Mahnbescheid"). Submitting the application in written form or by fax, using the application form provided by the conciliation office, is sufficient. To achieve the suspending effect on the limitation period, the application for conciliation must be sufficiently precise. Furthermore, the application must not constitute an abuse of legal rights. The applicant must ensure this with the support of his legal advisor. Insofar, the conciliation body does not assume any examination responsibility. The requirements of certainty and definiteness for the application for conciliation to be sufficiently precise are said to be less stringent than for a court action ("Klage") or a court order to pay ("Mahnbescheid") (see Duchstein, Die Bestimmtheit des Güteantrags zur Verjährungshemmung, NJW 2014, 342 et seq.; May/Moeser, Anerkannte Gütestellen in der anwaltlichen Praxis – Verjährungshemmung und Konfliktmanagement durch Güteanträge, NJW 2015, S. 1637). However, the requirement of certainty and definiteness should be taken seriously (BGH rulings of 18. June 2015 – III ZR 189/14, 191/14, 198/14 und 227/14; May/Moeser, Konfliktmanagement durch Güteverfahren, Börsenzeitung of 4. July 2015). Applicants are well advised to choose the safest way; therefore, the respective requirements that are valid for claims or court orders to pay should also be taken into consideration regarding applications for conciliation. Pursuant to a ruling of the German Federal Court (ruling of 28. October 2015 - IV ZR 526/14) an application for conciliation is supposed to constitute an abuse of legal rights and will therefore not suspend the limitation period if the other party has already made clear that it refuses to enter into any amicable settlement. An application for conciliation for the purpose of suspending the limitation period is therefore not advisable if the other party has already expressed itself accordingly.