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Tristan Hallam: European Law

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

Did you know that you can sue in this country for accidents that happen in France?? European law is a strange beast.

I have written a blog previously on how those in Europe have attempted to codify the laws. For the reasons that I have set out previously, and indeed in a recent blog where I refer to the difference between laws in this country and in Europe where we in the UK have a common law based system and where in the vast majority of European countries the law is based upon the Roman system.

Any codification or overlap in laws therefore is likely to be difficult to establish. The legislators will try their best and at present we are left with a strange arrangement whereby if an accident occurs in certain European countries, the claim can be brought in England whereas in other European countries, not.

By way of example, if an accident occurs in Austria where the claim is against the third party in a road traffic accident case and also potentially against the insurer as is now normally the case where the third party is sued as well as the insurers or sometimes just the insurers alone, the claim cannot be brought in England as Austria does not have an arrangement in place where the claim can instead be brought in England and Austrian lawyers therefore have to be instructed to bring the claim in Austria.

In France however, the French legal system has introduced laws which have stemmed from various different treaties over the years allowing a claim to be brought in a different European country.

If therefore one trips over in the supermarket in Calais or I am involved in road traffic accident in Paris, I can bring the claim in England with proceedings being issued in this country against the French insurers who in turn will nominate agents in England to deal with the claim. This is so much easier.

I will be compiling a list shortly of all those countries which have such an arrangement as in France and those that do not and I will write separately with a blog on this point.

Tristan Hallam is a Principal Lawyer in Personal Injury in the London office of Slater and Gordon. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.