The EU AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve – Impli­ca­ti­ons for companies

Lia­bi­li­ty régime, AI Regu­la­ti­on, arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gence, AI, AI Lia­bi­li­ty Directive

With the AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve, the EU Com­mis­si­on wants to crea­te new lia­bi­li­ty rules for arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gence (AI) and sup­ple­ment the plan­ned AI Regu­la­ti­on. We have a lea­k­ed ver­si­on of the plan­ned direc­ti­ve, which EURACTIV and the Tages­spie­gel also repor­ted on. Offi­ci­al­ly, the pro­po­sed direc­ti­ve is not sche­du­led to be published until 28 Sep­tem­ber 2022 . We would like to intro­du­ce you in advan­ce to the con­tent and impli­ca­ti­ons of the AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve for busi­nesses and pro­vi­de you tips on how to avo­id legal risks.

What is the goal of the AI Lia­bi­li­ty Directive?

The AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve ser­ves to adapt exis­ting lia­bi­li­ty rules to the digi­tal age and to deve­lo­p­ments in the field of AI. In the case of digi­tal pro­ducts, it is not clear to what ext­ent they are sub­ject to the lia­bi­li­ty régime of the Pro­duct Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve. In addi­ti­on, the Pro­duct Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve only pro­vi­des for com­pen­sa­ti­on for phy­si­cal or mate­ri­al dama­ge. Howe­ver, net­wor­king and new tech­no­lo­gies mean that data and pri­va­cy can also be dama­ged by inse­cu­re pro­ducts. In addi­ti­on, the com­ple­xi­ty of digi­tal pro­ducts makes it dif­fi­cult for inju­red par­ties to iden­ti­fy the pro­du­cer responsible.

The draft at a glance

The draft AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve pro­vi­des for the har­mo­ni­sa­ti­on of natio­nal non-contractual lia­bi­li­ty regimes for dama­ges cau­sed by AI. Anyo­ne who suf­fers dama­ge as a result of AI should be able to make a cla­im just as easi­ly as with respect to dama­ge that occur­red wit­hout the invol­vement of AI. Pur­su­ant to Artic­le 1(2) of the AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve, the dis­clo­sure requi­re­ments for high-risk AI sys­tems under the AI Regu­la­ti­on and the bur­den of pro­of for non-contractual fault-based dama­ge com­pen­sa­ti­on claims are the­r­e­fo­re to be har­mo­nis­ed. This is express­ly wit­hout pre­ju­di­ce to Euro­pean lia­bi­li­ty regu­la­ti­ons for the trans­port industry.

Dis­clo­sure requirements

In accordance with Artic­le 3(1) of the AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve, mem­ber sta­tes should ensu­re that inju­red par­ties can demand dis­clo­sure of infor­ma­ti­on from the ope­ra­tor, manu­fac­tu­rer or user of high-risk AI sys­tems. Cor­re­spon­ding claims also exist against dis­tri­bu­tors or other third par­ties who are obli­ged by the AI Regu­la­ti­on. A request can be made for trai­ning and vali­da­ti­on data, infor­ma­ti­on from tech­ni­cal docu­men­ta­ti­on and recor­ding requi­re­ments, and infor­ma­ti­on from the qua­li­ty manage­ment sys­tem and about cor­rec­ti­ve actions taken. The infor­ma­ti­on may only be sur­ren­de­red to the ext­ent neces­sa­ry and appro­pria­te to pur­sue the cla­im. If the request is unlawful­ly denied, the pre­sump­ti­on that the reques­ted infor­ma­ti­on would have sub­stan­tia­ted the cla­im takes effect. For enforce­ment and con­trol, mem­ber sta­tes must estab­lish appro­pria­te judi­cial powers.

Rever­sal of bur­den of proof

To make it easier for inju­red par­ties to assert claims against com­pa­nies, the AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve pro­vi­des for a shift in the bur­den of pro­of under the fol­lo­wing conditions:

  1. The aggrie­ved par­ty has set forth spe­ci­fic vio­la­ti­ons of the AI Ordi­nan­ce by the com­pa­ny; and
  2. the duty which the com­pa­ny has brea­ched is inten­ded pre­cis­e­ly to pro­tect against the dama­ge which has occur­red; and
  3. in accordance with natio­nal law, a breach of a duty to exer­cise due dili­gence has been deter­mi­ned to be the fault of the com­pa­ny; and
  4. the­re is a cau­sal link bet­ween the inf­rin­ge­ment and the dama­ge incurred.

If the rever­sal of the bur­den of pro­of appli­es, the com­pa­ny must pro­ve that it is not respon­si­ble for the dama­ge incurred.

Sum­ma­ry

The draft AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve is still at an ear­ly stage. Howe­ver, it is alre­a­dy clear that the pro­ce­du­ral con­se­quen­ces of a direc­ti­ve in this form would be serious. In addi­ti­on to a loss of intellec­tu­al pro­per­ty due to exces­si­ve dis­clo­sure requi­re­ments, com­pa­nies will be put on the defen­si­ve from the out­set by the rever­sal of the bur­den of pro­of. Alt­hough it may be some time befo­re the AI Lia­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve is adopted and trans­po­sed into natio­nal law, com­pa­nies that use AI or intend to do so in the future should alre­a­dy take mea­su­res to redu­ce lia­bi­li­ty and meet their pro­duct respon­si­bi­li­ty. For more infor­ma­ti­on, see our free reusch­law White­pa­per on updating requi­re­ments ari­sing from pro­duct respon­si­bi­li­ty based on civil and public law.

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