People wearing protective masks have become a common sight since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Yet the quality of some of these masks and the outstanding invoices are becoming a source of frustration.

Respiratory masks are among the measures that are meant to protect people from being infected with the coronavirus. It is now compulsory to wear the classic masks that cover the mouth and nose while shopping or traveling on public transport. These are designed first and foremost to protect others we may encounter. Then there are the more expensive particle-filtering FFP masks that are also designed with your own protection in mind and available in three different protection levels. In order to avoid shortages of FFP2 masks, Germany’s federal government budgeted for an order of around one billion FFP2 masks as part of a bidding process at the outset of the crisis, an order volume valued at approx. 4.5 billion euros.

An order of this magnitude subsequently proved to be unnecessary. The German tabloid Bild reported that according to a ministry spokesperson the federal government was expecting a mere 198 million FFP2 masks, with 1.2 billion euros claimed to have been allocated to this end. However, the newspaper also reported that there have been delays in the payment of invoices, with the reasons cited for non-payment including, for instance, missing delivery notes or TÜV protocols. A portion of the masks are also said to be defective.

Can the distributors expect to be left with outstanding invoices? We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can reassure those concerned that goods which are duly delivered and free from defects must be paid for. Failure to render payment means that claims can be brought. Given the often considerable sums of money at stake and the potential economic threat posed to these companies’ existence, action ought to be taken immediately.

Another set of problems is besetting retailers who ordered protective masks from China, only to discover that the goods are defective. They can expect to have claims for damages brough against them by their customers.

The contracts in these cases also need to be carefully reviewed. It needs to be determined what was contractually agreed and to what extent the contracts have not been complied with. If the goods are defective, claims for damages can also be brough against the suppliers in China.

Lawyers with experience in the field of commercial law can offer advice.


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