Possible Improvement of Provisions of Latvian Civil Law Concerning Liability for Damages, Caused by Abnormally Dangerous Activity

https://doi.org/10.22364/iscflul.8.2.29 | Pages 420-434 | PDF

Lauris Rasnacs, Dr. iur.
University of Latvia, Latvia

Keywords: tort law, strict liability, negligence, insurance

As members of society, we all substantially benefit from various activities, which impose increasing danger. Our PCs and mobile smartphones include several metals obtained through mining operations, numerous household items have been made by using chemical reactions. If we are ill, we may need medication, which is made by using chemical reactions and biological experiments. Autonomous vehicles and flying devices are gaining increasing popularity and extended application in both commercial and non-commercial use.

Some more radical members of society may say that we do not need these things and may withdraw from their use. However, it would be more realistic to contend that the society would never give up existing comfort, even if it is gained at least partly by activities creating increased danger. Therefore, the question is, how to regulate the liability for damages, caused by the activities incurring increased or abnormal danger to ensure that these regulations provide sufficient protection for injured parties and, at the same time, do not discourage potential operators from carrying out these activities, which create significant positive effect, despite of their danger.

Various jurisdictions are dealing with this question in different manner. The most important Latvian regulations are included mainly in the Art. 2347 para. 2 of Latvian Civil Law, adopted in 1992 and mainly mirroring the legal provisions of the earlier 20th century, with slight adjustments, introduced in 2012.

The author of the present paper holds an opinion that this Latvian regulation should be revised on the basis of more recent examples from other jurisdictions, such as Netherlands, and partially taking into account the findings and proposals, made in such splendid example of international academic cooperation as Principles of European Tort Law (hereinafter – PETL). The author of the current article makes such comparative analysis, as well as examines case law, discusses findings of some other authors and, consequently, proposes several amendments, which should be considered in order to improve the Latvian regulations, dealing with liability for damages caused by abnormally dangerous activity.