The association of civil liability procedures and national solidarity procedures in French legislation as regards the compensation of medical mishap

Authors: Sophie Hocquet-Berg


In France, the compensation system which deals with medical mishap has undergone sweeping change since the 2002-303 Act was passed on March 4th 2002. This reform has installed two joint procedures for the indemnification of these harms. The first of these procedures is based on civil liability. It mainly deals with professional misconduct and involves the intervention of insurance companies in compensation. The second procedure relies on a new principle – national solidarity. It consists in entrusting state institutions with the redress of medical injuries when no liability is at stake. Initially, these two means of compensation were thought of as complementary. That is, national solidarity only intervened subsidiarily, when the harm could not be compensated by an insurance company. However, a series of Acts passed by the French Parliament have restricted the domain of civil liability while they extended the field of national solidarity. This is why national solidarity is no longer simply considered as complementary to civil liability, but also as an alternative which allows insurers not to pay the compensation that is normally due when a customer’s civil liability is involved.