May 9th, 2012

Continental European Legislative and Judicial Trends: Concluding Comments

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

David Lewin, Managing Director

In this issue of our latest legal update we include some intellectually stimulating insights into the interaction with EU and international law of local legislation and jurisprudence in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The leading theme in this issue is the continued adaptation of individual country legislation to the requirements of EU law. The path to enactment of EU Directives is strewn with obstacles and involves a variety of conflicts with existing local legal provisions and long-standing legal principles. A particularly interesting example of such conflict can be seen in Italy’s enactment of the Environmental Liability Directive, where the strict liability principle is challenging Italy’s existing negligence-based legal framework and requiring some innovative decision-making on the part of the Italian Supreme Court. The conflict of long-standing legal principles is also evidenced by the implementation of EU Gender Non-Discrimination legislation and by a variety of consumer protection laws affecting insurance contract law.

The dominance of EU legislation does not prevent individual EU territories from pursuing their own agendas to create new legal liabilities specific to their own jurisdictions. The creation in Poland, for example, of new financial legal liability of public servants for violations of their legal duties towards the Polish State Treasury opens a whole new field of business for the casualty insurance market.

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