On 24 – 26 June, 2014, a legal counselor from our law firm, Ms. Karolina Kolary, was present during the congress organized by the European Lawyers’ Association (UAE) in Vienna. The congress’ subject was “Punitive damages and collective actions in Europe”.
The congress included several sessions, with lectures delivered by both representatives of legal science and law practitioners from many EU countries: Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Romania and, finally, Poland. There was a debate regarding punitive damages, and the necessity of introducing this institution into the European legal systems. As it turned out, in most of the countries, representatives of which were present at the congress – excluding only, to some extent, Ireland – punitive damages are not known to the legal system (all these systems envisage smaller or bigger exceptions, though). The discussion proved that even within the same country there are different views on punitive damages; i.e. prof. Georg Kodek, Judge at the Austrian Supreme Court of Justice had a lot of praise for the idea, while dr. Georg Kathrein, Director – General of Directorate for Civil Law and Legislation in Austrian Ministry of Justice, greatly opposed.
The discussion also concerned the models, efficiency and functionality of class actions in Europe. This legal institution, contrary to punitive damages, turned out to be well known in many European countries, although differences relating to the scope of it’s use, accepted solutions and particular legal provisions, were considerable.
The congress, which, as far as it’s substantive part is concerned, took place in the magnificent baroque rooms of Palais Kinsky, and regarding the social aspects in, among others, the Sacher Hotel, was also a great opportunity to see the city of Vienna, which in the year 2014 celebrates the 200th anniversary of commencing another well known congress - the Congress of Vienna.