Karin Sein and Andrus Kattel published an article on the law applicable to insurers liability based on a traffic accident caused by a tractor unit coupled with a trailer, each of the vehicles being insured by different insurers

At the beginning of 2016, the ECJ made a ruling on the questions referred by the Lithuanian courts concerning the determination of the law applicable to the division of liability between the cross-border loss event and insurers in accordance with the Rome I and Rome II Regulations. In both cases, it was a situation in which a caravan coupled to a trailer had participated in a traffic accident in Germany, with a compulsory motor third party liability insurance contract with a different insurance company in Lithuania for a towing vehicle and trailer. The motorcade insurer paid out the insurance indemnity to the victims. Later, however, the question arose whether, and to what extent, the insurance company of the towing vehicle could lodge a claim against the trailer’s insurer.

As there was a foreign element in the case (a traffic accident occurred in Germany), it was first necessary to determine the law of the country under which such a possible recovery would be decided. Under German law, the owners of the towing vehicle and the trailer are jointly and severally liable for the victim, but their liability is divided in half (50% / 50%). Thus, the insurer of the towing vehicle or trailer, who paid the total amount of damages, can file a 50% recovery against another insurer. However, Lithuanian law does not foresee such a principle.

In their latest Juridica (Estonian law journal) article NOVE lawyers Karin Sein and Andrus Kattel first analyse the guidance given by the ECJ in determining the applicable law, and then discuss the civil liability of the owner of the towing vehicle and the trailer in German law. Finally, an important question for the Estonian insurers is raised, what would be the right of recourse between insurers in the event that the concluded contracts for motor third party liability insurance were subject to Estonian law.

The article is available in Estonian on the webpage of Juridica.