XVIIth annual European Traffic Law Days

Jolanta Budzowska        07 November 2016        Comments (0)

This year’s XVIIth annual European Traffic Law Days conference was held in Warsaw, and I couldn’t be happier to finally be able to walk to ‘work’!

On that note, I believe the Institute for European Traffic Law’s choice of the debate’s location was not coincidental.

On one hand, the number of accidents and collisions caused by drivers using vehicles on Polish registration plates on the Green Card System roads has been steadily growing over the years. On the other hand, the number of injured parties that took part in an accident on the territory of Poland, and pursuant to the Brussels I Regulation* have the right to seek compensation from a Polish insurer in their country of residence, has also risen. The trouble is, even in a trial before a court in their country of residence, Polish substantive law will be applicable (‘the law of the country in which the damage occurs’).**

The law offices from Great Britain, Germany and Holland which we cooperate with are getting much better at understanding ‘the Polish rules of the game’ in terms of compensation,  redress and pension. What still causes problems, however, are certain institutions of the law that function completely differently in various legal systems, and at the same time are often crucial in the feud between the injured party and the insurer. Prominent examples of the above include joint and several liability in the case of complicity, limitation, entitled persons (especially in the case of the direct victim’s death) or inheritance claims.

Invariably the most sought after is the answer to one key question: what should an ‘adequate’ (in line with the civil code’s definition) redress, according to Polish law, amount to? Court decisions do not have precedential value in Polish law, therefore they may only bring us closer to the correct answer. What further complicates the issue is the ‘cross-border factor’. For example:

“Redress meets its compensatory function if it is actual – i.e. its amount presents an economically noticeable value to the injured party. The benchmark for such estimate should therefore be financial relations and the cost of living in their country of residence, where their business life is focused‘ – judgement of the Supreme Court of 15 January 2014, ref. No. I CSK 215/13.

Why, then, would only a few Polish lawyers attend such an important conference, that focused on the biggest issues concerning cross-border road traffic accidents litigation? Honestly I have no clue.

What I know is that without the understanding of various law systems, as well as exchanging experiences and knowledge – during conferences such as those organised by the Institute for European Traffic Law – it would be difficult to responsibly deliver expert advice for foreign law firms, or advise individual clients who had the misfortune of becoming injured in a cross-border accident.

*Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) No 1215/2012 of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition of judicial decisions and their enforcement in civil and commercial matters (Brussels I)

**Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II)

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