Abstract: The decision of the Austrian Supreme Court adds to its case law that a general term of contract, according to which the debtor is liable to pay for the creditors costs of receipting and administrating payments, is not grossly unfair. The Supreme Court also states that the historical background and especially the so-called drafting guidelines (Gesetzesmaterialien) to a legal rule can be used as a source of interpretation only in so far as the wording of the rule is ambigious and further, that a legal norm, expressed only in the drafting guidelines, cannot be used as a means of interpretation when the legal rule does not even indicate the existence of such a norm.
Statements of principle:
a) The historical background of a legal rule and especially the drafting guidelines can be taken into consideration when interpreting the rule only in the case that (and if) the language of the rule is ambigious. A legal norm, which is not even indicated in the law, but only in the drafting guidelines, cannot become valid by means of interpretation.
b) When according to the law a unilateral change of general terms of contract (Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen, AGB) becomes valid only by proclamation in due course, a reference in the proclamation to the customers right to denounce the contract is not required.
c) The automatic bill paying system offers considerable advantages to all parties in comparison to the giro transfer and cheque.
d) A considerable disadvantage of the contractual partner is in the meaning of the Â§ 879 Abs 3 AGBG and in case of this kind of contractual formation not even then at stake when the debtor is liable to pay in settlement the reasonable costs of the creditor caused by the fact that the customer is not using the automatic bill paying system.European Review of Private Law