Court in Frankfurt rules that a hangover is an "illness"

Court in Frankfurt rules that a hangover is an "illness"

Court in Frankfurt rules that a hangover is an "illness"

If you’re working in Germany then you might have just found the perfect excuse for staying home after a boozy Sunday night, as the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Frankfurt has ruled that hangovers are an “illness".

Being hungover is the same as being ill

In a judgement published on Monday, the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Frankfurt am Main ruled that a Kater (the German word for hangover) can be classified as an illness. Background to the ruling was a firm - which has not been named - being taken to court over making "illegal" health claims in adverts for their anti-hangover shots and drink powders.

Advertising food and drink as having similar properties to medicines, and as such being able to prevent or help alleviate symptoms of a disease, is illegal in Germany. In their ruling, the OLG maintained that “information about a food product cannot ascribe any properties for preventing, treating or healing a human illness or give the impression of such a property.”

How does German law define "disease"? 

The court clarified that the terms illness and disease should be treated broadly in the interest of protecting public health. Therefore, according to the court, an illness “is any, so also a minor or temporary, disturbance” to the body.

The now banned advertisement claimed to prevent or treat the symptoms of a hangover, which it listed as tiredness, nausea and headache. These symptoms were ruled by the court to not occur in the normal functioning of the human body, but rather as a result of the consumption of alcohol. 

Therefore, a food or drinks company cannot make any claims to prevent or treat hangovers, because they are technically an illness, the court ruled. However, we're not sure your boss is going to see it in the same way, so it's probably best not to use it as an excuse for sick leave after drinking too much beer

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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