DS0801 - Rapport au risque et innovation sociale

From civil liability to socialisation of the risks – RCSR

From civil liability to socialisation of the risks

Civil liability is presented as the preferred mode of compensation of damages, transferring the burden of damage to the person from whom the damage is attributed. This model is obsolete: it is competing with strict liability schemes, and in many cases it is not the tortfeasor who actually disburses the damages. Compensation for damages can be regarded as an issue of risk socialisation.

Main issues

The RCSR project adopts a renewed point of view on the upheavals and crises of civil liability, considering it as a phenomenon of socialisation of risks. Its aim is to propose a rationalization of compensation mechanisms that will reduce procedural costs in compensating victims and increase the effectiveness of the system of compensation for damages.<br /><br />Objectives:<br />- describe the transition from civil liability to the socialization of risks, both from a practical and a theoretical point of view<br />- using comparative law and other human and social sciences, analysis of the transition from civil liability to the socialization of risks<br />- to propose to the actors of the compensation, but also to the political actors, a guide of good practices), a reference system of compensation, and an «offer of law«.

- transdisciplinary confrontation of the evolution of the sense of responsibility (economic, sociological, anthropological, philosophical, theological, linguistic, psychological, etc.)
- inquiry with the actors involved in the compensation of corporal injuries (lawyers, magistrates, insurers, compensation funds, etc.) about their practice and their was of decisions
- Analysis of a sample of decisions and offers of compensation (agreements with the Court of Cassation and the Council of State)

The first results, which have yet to be confirmed, clearly indicate the complexity of the issue. The current system is in an «in-between«, a foot in the socialization of risks, and a foot in classic civil liability. The tools and methods in one and the other of these fields can not be identical, they are for the moment quite undifferentiated.

Among other things, this project should lead to the realization of a methodological guide to compensation for personal injury. For now, the research, if it is nourished by foreign examples, is essentially national. As a continuation, consideration should be given to replicating the same approach from a more transnational perspective.

- Capitalisation chart
- Books:
o Des spécificités de l'indemnisation du dommage corporel, dir. Christophe Quézel-Ambrunaz, Laurence Clerc-Renaud, Philippe Brun (Bruylant, 2017)
o Sens et non-sens de la responsabilité civile, dir. Johann Le Bourg, Christophe Quézel-Ambrunaz
U. Izzo, «È nato prima il danno o la sicurezza sociale? (Saggio in tre atti)« in Responsabilità civile e previdenza, 2015, n. 6, pp. 1816-1842; 2016, n. 1, pp. 40-74; 2016, n. 2, pp. 399-432; 2016, n. 3, pp. 759-780
2. Marta Infantino, “Diffusing Tort Law Softly: Insights into the Travels of Italian Tort Law”, 5 Journal of European Tort Law 260-281 (2016).
3. O. Gout, « Responsabilité civile et santé » in L’objectivisation de la responsabilité civile, Regards franco-brésilien sur l’évolution du droit des obligations, Editions Universitaires Européennes, 2017 p. 248.
4. O. Gout, « Quelle réforme pour la responsabilité civile en France ? Présentation du projet de réforme du 13 mars 2017 », à paraître, Revue juridique de la Faculté de droit de l’Université Rykkyo de Tokyo
1. J. Bourdoiseau, La situation du salarié victime après le recours des tiers payeurs, Droit social, 2017, à paraître
2. C. Quézel-Ambrunaz [avec coauteurs], Le recours poste par poste : bilan et perspective, Gaz Pal. 2017, Hors Série Droit du dommage corporel
3. Vincent Rivollier, « Procédure d’offre d’indemnisation : les promesses (de l’assureur) n’engagent que ceux qui les écoutent », note sous Cass. Civ. 2e, 8 juin 2017
4. J. Bourdoiseau, Du droit des risques professionnels, panorama 2015, Gaz. pal., janv. 2016
5. C. Quézel-Ambrunaz, Perte de revenus subie par qui se dévoue pour assurer l'assistance tierce personne, JCP G 2016, p. 910

Tort law is commonly presented as the preferred method for compensation of damages consecutive of an accident. Civil liability consists, apparently, in taking in the pocket of the tortfeasor enough money to restore the victim to the state it was in before the accident.
This model is obsolete. First, we can note an overabundance of compensation debtors, after an accident: the insurer of the victim, social security, sometimes social benefits grants (Conseil Général for the Prestation de Compensation du Handicap; sometimes the Caisse des allocations familiales...), in some contexts, the employer, sometimes a compensation fund (Fonds de garantie des victimes d’actes de terrorisme et d’autres infractions, Fonds d’indemnisation des victimes de l’amiante ...). On the other hand, it is extremely rare that the person directly responsible for the damage is actually required to compensate the victim. He is very unlikely to bear the cost of the damages, and there are cases in which the rules of civil liability allow it to escape any conviction.
Indeed, all recent developments in liability tend to put the burden of compensation on who has the best ability to spread the cost of damages other society. In addition, civil liability is facing competition from other compensation mechanisms: as an example, medical accidents are repaired, often through a specific procedure, whether they arise from a fault (liability) or from therapeutic hazard (socialization of risks).
Therefore, liability appears more as a risk socialization mechanism among others, than as a transfer of costs mechanism. Now, if we assume that most of the time, the burden of repairing the damage bears on the community, a fundamental conceptual breakthrough is achieved, rich in implications.
Thus, the cost that represents the diversity of compensation procedures and multiplicity of proceedings arising from this diversity appears to be abnormally high, if in any case, the whole of society pays the damages. Moreover, sometimes the reasons depriving a victim from the right to obtain compensation appear baseless, under a risk socialization mechanism. Some legal systems, including New Zealand, have already drawn conclusions from this change likely to abolish the liability in favour of a socialization mechanism.
This project will study these upheavals and crises of civil liability as a risk socialization phenomenon. This interpretation is relatively new in French law, breaking the traditional concepts, and opens wide research fields.
This project consists of three main tasks:
• Theoretical analysis of the phenomenon: development of a critical bibliography review of conceptual locks to changing representations evaluation of the legal tools available to a paradigm reversal consideration of other inputs social sciences about the nature and functions of civil liability.
• Practical analysis of the phenomenon: dissemination and analysis of a questionnaire to those involved in compensation; Counting court decisions; creation of a database or a repository on the practices of compensation by different actors.
• Writing in the light of the contributions of previous actions, documents to the scientific community, policy makers, civil society.

Project coordination

Christophe QUEZEL-AMBRUNAZ (Centre de droit public et privé des obligations et de la consommation)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CDPPOC Centre de droit public et privé des obligations et de la consommation

Help of the ANR 262,080 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2015 - 42 Months

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