On 24 May of this year a scientific conference was held at the Supreme Court called “Recompense for a claimant injured in a motor accident and for persons close to a claimant.” The conference was organised by the Supreme Court in collaboration with the Polish Insurance Association. The conference was primarily addressed to judges but also to the representatives of other legal professions and the insurance community.
The aim of the conference was to exchange views about the issue of recompense for the harm caused in a motor accident and the scope of claims to which persons close to claimants are entitled in such cases. The conference was attended by more than 100 people, including judges, representatives of the National Council of Legal Advisers, the National Council for the Judiciary, the Supreme Bar Council, the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection, the Insurance Guarantee Fund, the Polish Motor Insurers’ Bureau and the insurance industry. The conference comprised two thematic sessions:
- Competitiveness of the legal grounds for recompense for the harm caused by death of someone close de lege lata and de lege ferenda.
2. Recompense for the harm caused by severe disability of a close person de lege lata and de lege ferenda.
- Maciej Jakub Zieliński, Ph.D. – representative of the Supreme Court, Bureau of Studies and Analyses,
• Józef Zych, Ph.D. – Judge of the State Tribunal, Polish Sejm speaker from 1995–1997,
• Andrzej Maciążek – Vice-president of the Polish Insurance Association (the presentation is available on YouTube),
• Jakub Pokrzywniak, Ph.D. – Faculty of Law and Administration, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań,
• Professor Ewa Bagińska, Ph.D. – Head of the Faculty of Civil Law University of Gdańsk.
The following persons participated in panel discussions:
• Maciej Plaskacz – District Court Judge in Grudziądz,
• Małgorzata Stanek – Court of Appeals Judge in Łódź,
• Professor Andrzej Śmieja, Ph.D. – WSB University in Wrocław,
• Monika Wałachowska, Ph.D. – Faculty of Law and Administration, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń,
• Jacek Sadomski, Ph.D. – Court of Appeals Judge in Warsaw.
The conference was opened by Wiesław Błuś, President of the Supreme Court, who gave the floor to Maciej Zieliński, who discussed the problem of competitiveness of claims for recompense in connection with the death of a close person de lege lata and de lege ferenda. Later, Józef Zych discussed the issue of recompense in the light of doctrine, judicial decisions and insurance practices. Meanwhile, the President of the PIU, Andrzej Maciążek, gave a presentation on the economic aspects associated with the payment of recompense by insurance companies. Among other things he talked about solutions adopted in other EU jurisdictions as regards the value of the recompense and the entitled persons. He stated that the optimal solution would be a legal regulation:
- guaranteeing predictability of the value of recompense,
- eliminating the possibility of lodging new claims based on “new” ways of interpreting the law,
- placing a statutory limitation on the group of claimants by establishing a closed group denoted by the term “closest family member”.
President A. Maciążek pointed out that this solution has been used successfully for many years in jurisdictions such as Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia and for example the United Kingdom. During the discussion the participants suggested that courts, when considering cases, do not have appropriate tools to estimate the extent of the harm, which, in turn, indicates that there is a need for the legislature to regulate certain issues concerning recompense.
The meaning of the term “personal rights” was also a subject of discussion. The correctness of treating family ties as a personal right was questioned in some of the statements. In the second part of the conference, the floor was taken by Jakub Pokrzywniak, Ph.D. (Faculty of Law and Administration, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), who gave a presentation on a topic concerning discovery of new personal rights in judicial decisions (in the context of Article 448 of the Civil Code). The subject of the presentation given by Professor Ewa Bagińska was admissibility in the light of the Civil Code of claims for recompense by close persons in connection with serious harm being suffered by a directly injured person in light of the Civil Code. The second session was dominated by a discussion panel and a heated discussion among the speakers with the participants, during which references were made to the issue of expanding liability for compensation with regard to persons close to a claimant, based on the concept of breach of their personal rights. The majority of the representatives of doctrine attending the conference agreed that this would have to be regulated in a legislative act. The majority of the participants also recognised the problems of insurers concerning unpredictability, important from the point of view of risk assessment, as regards the value of the benefits and scope of the claims being lodged.
Presentation by Maciej Jakub Zieliński, Ph.D. – representative of the Supreme Court, Bureau of Studies and Analyses
Presentation by Andrzej Maciążek, Vice-president of PIU
Presentation by Jakub Pokrzywniak, Ph.D. – Faculty of Law and Administration, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań