Criminal proceedings against Ruiz Bernaldez: ECJ 28 Mar 1996

Europa In the preliminary-ruling procedure under Article 177 of the Treaty, it is for the national courts alone, before which the proceedings are pending and which must assume responsibility for the judgment to be given, to determine, having regard to the particular features of each case, both the need for a preliminary ruling to enable them to give judgment and the relevance of the questions which they refer to the Court. A request for a preliminary ruling from a national court may be rejected only if it is quite obvious that the interpretation of Community law sought by that court bears no relation to the actual nature of the case or the subject-matter of the main action.
Article 3(1) of Directive 72/166 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and to the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability, is to be interpreted as meaning that, without prejudice to the provisions of Article 2(1) of Directive 84/5 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, a compulsory insurance contract may not provide that in certain cases, in particular where the driver of the vehicle was intoxicated, the insurer is not obliged to pay compensation for the damage to property and personal injuries caused to third parties by the insured vehicle.
In view of the aim of ensuring protection, stated repeatedly in all the relevant directives, Article 3(1) of Directive 72/166, as developed and supplemented by the later directives, must be interpreted as meaning that compulsory motor insurance must enable third-party victims of accidents caused by vehicles to be compensated for all the damage to property and personal injuries sustained by them, without the insurer being able to rely on statutory provisions or contractual clauses to refuse such compensation. Any other interpretation would deprive that provision of its effectiveness, since it would have the effect of allowing Member States to limit payment of compensation to third-party victims of a road-traffic accident to certain types of damage, thus bringing about disparities in the treatment of victims depending on where the accident occurred, which is precisely what the directives are intended to avoid.
The compulsory insurance contract may, on the other hand, provide that in such cases the insurer is to have a right of recovery against the insured.


Times 06-May-1996, C-129/94, [1996] EUECJ C-129/94, [1996] I ECR 1829



Cited by:

CitedKnight v Axa Assurances QBD 24-Jul-2009
The claimant was injured in a car accident in France. The defendant insurer said that the quantification of damages was to be according to French law and the calculation of interest also. The claimant said that English law applied.
Held: The . .
CitedChurchill Insurance Company Ltd v Wilkinson and Others CA 19-May-2010
The various insured defendants had been driven in the insured vehicles by a non-insured driver. Suffering injury at the negligence of the driver, they recovered variously damages. Their insurance companies sought recovery of the sums paid from their . .
CitedBristol Alliance Ltd v Williams and Another QBD 1-Jul-2011
The driver had crashed into the insured’s building causing substantial damage. The court was asked which of the driver’s and building’s insurers should bear the costs. The driver’s insurers said that he had acted deliberately and therefore they were . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Road Traffic, European

Updated: 03 June 2022; Ref: scu.161349