I signed a non-refundable contract for a group stay at the Westin Grand Berlin for May 8, 2020. The group had to cancel the trip due to COVID-19 pandemic. The hotel sent me an invoice for the balance and threaten to forward it to their legal department if it's not paid immediately. Germany closed their boarders and does not allow tourists into the country. Can they sue me for the payment?

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    If the group and not the hotel cancelled, this seems like a pretty clear-cut case: for a non-refundable contract you have to pay even when you cancel. This would be entirely different if the hotel had cancelled your stay. – amon Apr 24 '20 at 11:20
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    You need a real lawyer. There are so many details which might matter, from the fine print in your contract to the place of jurisdiction. – o.m. Apr 24 '20 at 14:32
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica “You can't be held responsible for a contract you are legally prohibited from fulfilling.” Is that a fact in Germany? Would that logic also apply to someone who is denied a visa or entry into the country? – Relaxed Apr 25 '20 at 9:22
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    I think that is not a correct assumption, @Harper-ReinstateMonica , as much as it seems to be common sense. The law will look at things like 'could/should the contract partner have known that you might not be able to legally fulfill it'. Many hotels have in their contracts clauses that push the responsibility to the customer, in the sense of 'if you are not showing up for whatever reason you are still required to pay'. The question needs to be reviewed a lot more in detail, not just by common sense. – Aganju Apr 25 '20 at 15:18
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica as I understand it the quid pro quo requirement is a feature of contract law in common law systems, but not in others, so it may not be applicable to Germany. It seems that civil contract law often arrives at the same result by a different route, however. I think the likelihood that there's something applicable in the relevant consumer protection law is probably pretty high. Tami Berkovits should also keep in mind that the company might even have known that they had no hope of prevailing and sent the letter in the hope that the customer wasn't as well informed. – phoog Apr 25 '20 at 17:42

The crucial point is if the hotel is able to fulfil the contract. This is decided on May, 3, as the new policies for Berlin are rolled out that day.

Chances are high tourism is still not allowed in Berlin on May, 8, so the hotel cannot fulfil. That's why they are eager to have their guests' money now. Because if a guest payed, the guest had to sue them to get her money back, and if the hotel goes bankrupt, the guest won't get a cent.

And that's why I personally would not pay a cent in the current situation. If against all odds tourism is going to be allowed on May, 8, I would pay as soon as I took notice of that, on May, 3. From now, that's still within the payment notice/reminder period. They could bill me a few Euro for late payment, not more.

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    The hotel welcomes the guests. That they cannot reach it is their problem. – Greendrake Apr 26 '20 at 1:00
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    @Greendrake: What you fail to understand is that tourism is prohibited in Germany at the moment. They can welcome their guests as much as they like, they aren't allowed to host them. And that policy most likely continues for the next months. – Janka Apr 26 '20 at 1:02
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    Not allowed to host? If I by whatever means walk in and ask for a room, will they refuse? You should provide reference. – Greendrake Apr 26 '20 at 1:45
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    If I by whatever means walk in and ask for a room, will they refuse? They must refuse. berlin.de/corona/massnahmen/verordnung §6(2) — no tourist vacancies – Janka Apr 26 '20 at 2:19
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    That for sure not. I'm inclined to think tourists who are stranded should contact their consulates to arrange their own transfer home, and if this is not possible at the moment, the consulate will arrange a permission with the German authorities (and funds, if neccessary) for their stay in that hotel they are in currently. – Janka Apr 26 '20 at 2:40

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