Case law Developments in PIL

October at the Court of Justice, Update – Again on Jurisdiction and Insurances

Today, the Court of Justice has published its judgement in C 393/20, a request for a preliminary ruling from the Sąd Rejonowy dla Krakowa-Śródmieścia w Krakowie (Poland).

The subject matter of the proceedings in the joined cases concerns the claims of two commercial operators, T.B. and D. sp. z o.o., with seat in Poland, against the defendant G.I. A/S, which has its seat in Denmark. In each of the two joined cases, the applicant seeks compensation for the damage resulting from a road accident caused by persons who are insured by the defendant. In both cases the accident occurred in Poland, the vehicles involved in the collision were registered in the territory of Poland, and the drivers of the vehicles are Polish citizens.

T.B. is a businessman; he engages professionally in risk assessment and loss assessment activities. D. sp. z o.o. presents itself as a repair workshop offering vehicle repair services without payment and accepting claim assignment as settlement of repair costs. G.I. A/S contests the jurisdiction of the Polish courts seized in both cases.

The questions referred to the Court were:

(1)         Must Article 13(2), in conjunction with Article 11(1)(b), of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters be interpreted as meaning that it may be relied on by a person who, in return for services provided to a party directly injured in a road accident in connection with the damage caused, has acquired a claim for compensation, but does not carry out the professional activity of recovering insurance indemnity claims against insurance companies and who brought an action, in the court for the place where he is established, against the third-party liability insurer of the party responsible for that accident, which insurer has its seat in another Member State?

(2)         Must Article 7(2) or Article 12 of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters be interpreted as meaning that it may be relied on by a person who acquired, under an assignment agreement, a claim from a party injured in a road accident in order to bring a civil-liability action before a court of the Member State in which the accident occurred against the insurer of the party responsible for that accident, which insurer has its seat in a Member State other than the Member State in which the accident occurred?

In a decision taken by the 8th Chamber (N. Wahl, F. Biltgen, L.S. Rossi as juge rapporteur), without prior opinion of the advocate general in charge, the Court has replied as expected. Regarding the first question, it states that (my translation) Article 13 (2) of Regulation 1215/2012, read in conjunction with Article 11 (1) (b) of that regulation,

“must be interpreted as meaning that it cannot be invoked by a company which, in return for the services it provides to the victim direct from a road traffic accident related to the damage resulting from this accident, has acquired from it the claim for insurance compensation, for the purpose of claiming payment from the insurer of the author of the said accident, without however exercising a professional activity in the field of recovery of such debts.”

On the second query, the answer reads:

“Article 7 (2) of Regulation No 1215/2012 must be interpreted as meaning that it may be invoked by a trader who has acquired, by virtue of an assignment contract, the debt of the victim of a road traffic accident, with the aim of bringing before the courts of the Member State of the place where the harmful event occurred, a tort or quasi-tort action against the insurer of the author of this accident, which has its registered office in the territory of a Member State other than that of the place where the harmful event occurred, provided that the conditions for the application of this provision are met, which is for the referring court to verify.”

Legal Secretary CJEU Full Professor PIL, University of La Laguna (Spain) Senior research fellow MPI Luxembourg (on leave)

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