EURO 2016: Laws of the Game

Until today, I didn’t know about the International Football Association Board, which is the non-governmental organisation that is responsible for maintaining the official global football rules (the “Laws of the Game”). I also didn’t know that this organisation has exactly five members – of course the FIFA, but also the [English] Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales and the [Northern] Irish Football Association.

You should read the Laws of the Game. They’re not only very informative, but at times also funny. Would you have known about this clause from Law 17 (“The Corner Kick”):

A goal may be scored directly form a corner kick, but only against the opposing team

They wouldn’t have created such a rule if this didn’t happen at some time in the past, though I honestly can’t imagine how it should be possible to kick an own goal from a corner kick.

WhatsApp Must Speak German Because

Legal journalism is no easy thing, especially if it is about foreign law or court judgments. All too easy, all those details making the difference, or just the legal context, don’t make it to a published article.

David Meyer’s coverage for Fortune of a recent German regional court of appeal decision in a legal case that WhatsApp is fighting against a local German consumer protection association:

WhatsApp Must Speak German to Germans

Yes, but. This is by no way a suprising decision. It is long established in German legal practice that foreign companies that actively target German consumers are subject to German law, including legal provisions regulating Internet commerce. It is easy to actively target German consumers, with e.g. a German language website (like whatsapp.de) being sufficient. If you want to avoid German regulation, don’t target German customers specifically.

The appellate court said that while many Germans can understand everyday English, few speak the English legalese in which terms of service are written. Therefore, it said, it was unreasonable to expect them to do so, and WhatsApp’s terms of service and privacy policy are essentially ineffective.

Yes, but. In its decision, the court stressed that it probably wouldn’t agree to any terms of service not being in German language: “Alltagsenglisch mag verbreitet sein, für [..] überhaupt kommerzielles Englisch [..] gilt das aber nicht.”, meaning that while everyday English might be found commonly in Germany, this isn’t true for any commercially relevant situation. This is also a common line of German courts. So, if you want to do business in Germany, you need to follow German law.

If the ruling is finalized

WhatsApp has a chance to lodge a kind of final appeal to the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof). However, as the recent appeal decision in this case is in line with the common sense of courts in Germany on the applicability of German law, I doubt very much that such a final appeal would have any chance to go through.