In a nutshell
- Application Rules are not legally binding but they do provide legal certainty. Correct application of the rules releases the incumbent parties of the burden of proof in the event of a system failure (compliance with recognized recognized rules of technology is presumed - presumption of compliance)
- Application Rules are public, neutral, consensus-based, forward-looking, and technology-neutral.
Legal significance - legal nature and binding effect
The use of Application Rules is optional. In contrast to laws, Application Rules are not legally binding. They then become legally binding when referenced in contracts between parties, or if the law makes compliance compulsory. In practice, the application of these rules is often mandatory, such as with the establishment of Application Rules in the Technical Connection Conditions (TCC) for network operators.
If Application Rules do not appear in a contract between parties, they still serve as a decision-making tool in the event of a dispute. If compliance with the Application Rules can be demonstrated, compliance with universally recognized rules of technology is assumed, based on the presumption rule set out in § 49 EnWG (Energy Industry Law). In the event of damage, this aspect plays an important role when assessing breach of duty or negligence. Due to the reversal of the burden of proof, the agent party must be proven to have acted negligently (culpably) with reference to the relevant parts of the VDE regulations. If compliance with these rules cannot be proved, the onus falls on the perpetrator to prove that they have acted correctly. Application Rules are therefore recommendations which, when complied with, provide certain legal certainty for businesses.