In late 2018, Supreme Court of the Czech Republic issued a groundbreaking decision regarding the method of determining compensation for mental suffering in the case of death of the next of kin.
In the case of those next of kin, i.e. the spouse, parents and children, the Supreme Court set as a basic indication an amount twenty times the average monthly wage (which in the third quarter of last year amounted to CZK 31,516), i.e. a sum exceeding CZK 630,000. This sum will be some kind of a starting point for determining specific amounts on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the circumstances of a specific case, the court may significantly exceed that amount, or, on the contrary, award lower compensation.
Circumstances which affect the final amount of compensation, are not only the circumstances pertaining to the deceased and his/her relatives (such as age, the intensity of the relation between the deceased and the surviving or his/her dependency in terms of subsistence) but also those on the part of the wrongdoer. Typically, this will involve the degree and form of his/her fault, apology or other satisfaction that he/she provided to the survivors, as well as criminal or administrative penalties.
In mutual collaboration, the Czech Republic’s Supreme Court and the Transportation Research Center (Centrum dopravního výzkumu) created a new app, which may become a very useful tool in this regard. It summarizes all available case law of Czech courts concerning compensation for non-pecuniary damage and it is available on the following website: www.datanu.cz. According to the President of the Supreme Court, Pavel Šámal, the web application is primarily intended for use by lower courts. However, once logged in, every user is entitled to use the available calculator to determine approximately how high the compensation can be, i.e. not only in the case of the death of their loved one, but also as regards the so-called reparation money or compensation for diminished social function.
The said decision has been adopted in the wake of the need to standardize the decision-making practice of courts. The reason for that is the fact that after the new Civil Code came into effect, some laws regulating non-pecuniary damages ceased to apply. This, in turn, affected the space for judicial discretion. Clearly, however, the suitability of using the new methodology will show in the course of the decision-making practice.
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