Automated Vehicles and Third-Party Liability: A European Perspective

University of Illinois Journal of Law, Technology & Policy 2020, pp. 109-199

91 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2020 Last revised: 26 May 2020

See all articles by Michael P. Chatzipanagiotis

Michael P. Chatzipanagiotis

University of Cyprus, Department of Law

George Leloudas

Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, Swansea University

Date Written: January 14, 2020

Abstract

This article examines third-party liability issues of automated vehicles (AV) as currently regulated in Europe at the level of the European Union (EU) and at national level.

We begin with a brief presentation of international law on traffic rules, whose binding effect has influenced the content of European provisions. We proceed with the analysis of the provisions of the Product Liability Directive and the Motor Insurance Directive in view of their applicability to AV. Subsequently, we briefly analyze the pertinent provisions of German and English law on product liability and road traffic liability, including the special rules of the German Road Traffic Act, which focuses on the liability of keeper and the driver, as well as the English Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, which focuses on insurance and represents a different approach. We then outline the legal landscape in the US and compare it with the European. Afterwards, we examine briefly less obvious parameters, such as human-factors, the role of media and ethics, and explore the potential for international harmonization.

We conclude that, at present, the risks and benefits from the use of AV are not making a convincing case to depart from traditional liability rules on road traffic and defective products. There is no uninsurable disaster potential and no radical change in people’s lives to justify limiting the legal right of uninvolved victims to receive compensation compared to ordinary vehicles. There are more appropriate means than liability reform to incentivize technological development. Moreover, establishing uniform international liability rules would be desirable, but appears neither necessary nor politically feasible.

Keywords: automated vehicles, driverless cars, product liability, road negligence, third-party liability, drivers, insurance law, EU law, German law, English law, European law, comparison EU-US law, AI

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Chatzipanagiotis, Michael P. and Leloudas, George, Automated Vehicles and Third-Party Liability: A European Perspective (January 14, 2020). University of Illinois Journal of Law, Technology & Policy 2020, pp. 109-199, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3519381 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3519381

Michael P. Chatzipanagiotis (Contact Author)

University of Cyprus, Department of Law ( email )

1 University Avenue
Nicosia, Nicosia 2109
Cyprus

George Leloudas

Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, Swansea University ( email )

Singleton Park
Swansea, Wales SA2 8PP
United Kingdom

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