The latest key legislative and judicial developments reported in this issue of our legal update reveal a level of conservatism amongst both judges and legislators that is sounding a note of caution over the pace at which legal liability should expand in Continental Europe.
This conservatism is evident in the reluctance of judges and legislators to bow to pressure from the legal community to reverse the burden of proof for individual claimants in Italy, Spain and Germany and in the refusal of the Dutch Parliament to pass legislation introducing pain and suffering awards in tort law.
A note of caution is also evident in the reaction across the European Union to the proposals of the Rome II Study on the compensation of cross-border victims of motor accidents. The general concensus at the present time is that it would not be appropriate to allow victims to import the legal regime of their country of residence, and that the law applicable in the country where the accident occurs should continue to apply. This view is reflected in the decision of Jacobs-vs-MIB to apply Spanish compensation law (rather than the more onerous English law) to the English victim of an accident in Spain.
Nevertheless, the underlying long-term pressure to extend liability to a more standardized level across Europe remains, and in future issues of our legal update we are likely to witness fresh legal challenges to increase both compensation levels and the scope of legal liability in due course.
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