ECJ: Motor third party liability insurance


ECJ: Motor third party liability insurance for registered and not immobilised motor vehicles is compulsory

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the conclusion of a motor vehicle liability insurance contract is compulsory if the vehicle in question has been registered in a Member State and has not been properly immobilised. The mere fact that the vehicle is unroadworthy due to its technical condition does not preclude this obligation.

Insofar, the ECJ points out that the term "vehicle" in Art. 1 No. 1 of Directive 2009/103 is objective and is independent of the use that is or may be made of the vehicle in question, or even of the actual intention of its owner or any other person to use the vehicle. If the fact that a vehicle was not roadworthy at a certain point in time was sufficient to deprive it of its character as a vehicle and to withdraw it from compulsory insurance the objective character of the term "vehicle" would be called into question. Also, the obligation to insure (Art. 3(1) of Directive 2009/103) was not dependent on whether the vehicle had been used as a means of transport at a certain point in time or whether it had caused damage.

Similarly, the fact that the owner or another person intends to have the vehicle scrapped does not permit the assumption that it loses its status as a "vehicle" and is thus no longer covered by this insurance obligation.

Finally, the Court states that the exclusion of a vehicle from compulsory insurance should only be possible if the vehicle has been officially immobilised in accordance with the applicable national rules.

Consequently, the conclusion of motor vehicle liability insurance is necessary, on the one hand, to ensure the protection of victims of road accidents. On the other hand, it ensures the objective of guaranteeing free movement. Because only if enhanced protection of possible victims of road accidents is guaranteed Member States can be required under Article 4 of Directive 2009/103 to refrain from carrying out systematic checks on civil liability insurance in respect of vehicles entering their territory from another Member State.

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