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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: December 2017

Czech Republic

from Part II

Summary

SOURCES OF LAW AND THEIR DEVELOPMENT

Czech law did not provide for product liability prior to the adoption of an act implementing Directive 85/374/EEC. It was possible to claim product liability within the general liability regime governed by the Civil Code of 1964 (Act No 40/1964 Sb), under which everybody was liable for damage that occurred as a result of a breach of one's legal duty (see §420(1) Civil Code). I am not aware of any such claims nor of the existence of any relevant case law. Such claims would therefore be raised only exceptionally, if at all.

The Directive was firstly implemented by Act No 59/1998 Sb on Product Liability, which came into force on 1 June 1998 – six years prior to the accession of the Czech Republic to the EU in 2004. Act No 59/1998 Sb was amended by Act No 209/2000 Sb, with a date of effect of 1 September 2000, to reflect further amendments of the Directive itself.

Both the formal and material characteristics of Act No 59/1998 Sb strongly resembled the Directive. It was divided into 12 sections and elements of liability governed by Act No 59/1998 Sb constituted an autonomous regulation, which resembled a regulation contained in the Civil Code, yet remained separate and distinctive.

A major change was brought about by the adoption of the new Civil Code (Act No 89/2012 Coll) that repealed Act No 59/1998 Sb and provided for product liability in provisions governing non-contractual liability. Thus product liability was made equal to other material elements of delictual liability such as liability for damage caused by movables or immovables. The Civil Code contains only five sections, whereas basic elements of liability are provided for in general provisions. It follows the Directive only loosely and its implementation is partially inaccurate. It provides only for derogations from a general liability regime for product defects. This is a major difference from the previous regulation, which also stipulated basic elements of liability.