Digest of European Tort Law IV – Limits of Liability


The "Digest of European Tort Law" is a series of most ambitious research projects: a collection of court decisions from almost all European jurisdictions on the most fundamental aspects of tort law. These cases are not only accumulated, but also structured, analysed and commented both from a national as well as a comparative perspective. 'Limits of Liability' is the fourth project of this series.

In order to understand the various liability systems better, to accompany the ever-progressing harmonisation of European liability law, and to make sound assessments of future reform proposals, it is vitally important to incorporate the living law forged in the courts fully into one’s analysis. Despite this, before the Digest projects began, there existed no broad-based comparative study of case law. Like the preceding Digest studies I–III, dedicated to the topics of ‘Causation’, ‘Damage’, and the ‘Misconduct’ foundational for liability (see publications), this fourth project will contribute to closing this significant gap in the research.

This fourth project in the ‘Digest of European Tort Law’ series analyses the topic of the ‘Limits of Liability’. It does so comprehensively and comparatively on the basis of superior court decisions from 29 European legal systems and judgments of the European courts. The research is supplemented by a legal historical report, as well as by a comparison with existing harmonisation proposals. In order to secure general accessibility, English was chosen as the language of research.

The ‘Limits of Liability’ now set for investigation are of central importance, insofar as imposing liability for every loss caused by misconduct would lead to a boundless expansion in liability. All European legal systems have therefore developed a broad palette of instruments serving to limit liability, and the results these produce in practice are often more closely aligned than their conceptual diversity would lead one to assume at first glance.

The Digest IV study, like its predecessor Digest projects, is supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (P 33095-G).

As with volume III, the Digest IV investigation is being led by Ernst Karner (of the Institute for European Tort Law, Austrian Academy of Sciences and University of Graz, as well as of ECTIL and the University of Vienna). The project’s coordinating group includes, alongside Ernst Karner, the following internationally distinguished and renowned tort law scholars: Bjarte Askeland (Appeal Court, Bergen, Norway), Elena Bargelli (University of Pisa, Italy), Martin A Hogg (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom) and Bénédict Winiger (University of Geneva, Switzerland). The project is being administered scientifically and – in cooperation with the University of Geneva – organisationally through the Institute for European Tort Law.