ECJ: “Use of a vehicle”

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

In August 2013, a vehicle parked in the garage of a detached house, which had not been driven for more than 24 hours, caught fire due to a technical defect in the circuit. The fire caused damage to the house amounting to around 45,000 euros, which was covered by the building insurance company. However, the insurance company wanted to have the money reimbursed by the motor vehicle liability insurance, as the damage was caused by the “use of the vehicle”. The case went to court. However, the Spanish courts could not finally decide how Article 3 of Directive 2009/103/EC relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability should be interpreted and what falls under the term “use of a vehicle”.


In February 2019, Advocate General (ECJ) Yves Bot stated in his Opinion that a vehicle parked for more than 24 hours also falls under the term "in use". A time limit for vehicle accidents and their occurrence was not defined by legislators. Only vehicles that were not used for transport were to be excluded. Even if the Opinion of the Advocate General can only be seen as a recommendation to the judges, the ECJ agreed with this opinion. The ECJ ruled on 20 June 2019 that the Directive “must be interpreted as meaning that a situation such as that at issue in the main proceedings, in which a vehicle parked in a private garage of a building, used in accordance with its function as a means of transport, has caught fire, giving rise to a fire which originated in the electrical circuit of that vehicle and caused damage to that building, even though that vehicle has not been moved for more than 24 hours before the fire occurred, falls within the concept of ‘use of vehicles’ referred to in that provision.”



Further links: Case C-100/18 Application.

Case C-100/18 AG Opinion.

Case C-100/18 Judgment of 20 June 2019.

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