In July 2015 the Secretariat was approached by a group of scholars and practicing lawyers led by Professor Anton K. Schnyder and Professor Helmut Heiss (University of Zurich, as "Lead Agency"), Professor Martin Schauer (University of Vienna) and Professor Manfred Wandt (University of Frankfurt), who were examining the feasibility of formulating "Principles of Reinsurance Contract Law" (PRICL). This initiative was inspired by the project group “Restatement of European Insurance Contract Law“, which had led to the publication of the Principles of European Insurance Contract Law (PEICL)1. The purpose of the project is to formulate a “restatement” of existing global reinsurance law, which is largely embedded in international custom and usage, but is seldom the object of legislation.
The project leaders expressed the view that the proposed principles presupposed the existence of adequate rules of general contract law. Rather than attempting to re-create such rules, the proposed new principles should refer to the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts as the general part of contract law.
The Governing Council decided to recommend this topic for inclusion in the UNIDROIT Work Programme for the triennium 2017-2019 by the General Assembly, and recommended to assign it with a low level of priority. The General Assembly endorsed this recommendation of the Governing Council at its 75th session, on 1 December 2016.
The project has received financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation, the German Research Foundation and the Austrian Research Promotion Fund. In addition to the project managers, the research team includes well-known representatives from Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Africa and the United States. In addition, two advisory groups made up of representatives of the global insurance and reinsurance markets advise the research team. The participants at the first workshop of the Project Group (Zürich, 27-30 January 2016) agreed that specific principles and comments should be drafted on the following topics: choice-of-law, non-disclosure, errors and omissions, conditions precedent, event/accumulation/aggregation, late notice, back-to-back cover, “follow the fortunes” and “follow the settlement” principles, cooperation, time bar rule, termination and recapture, extra contractual obligations of the reinsured. The participants also agreed on a timeline with a view to substantially completing drafting of PRICL by the year 2018. The final form and means of publication of the PRICL are still under consideration. Since the first workshop, and following the approval of inclusion of the project in the Institute’s Work Programme for the triennium 2017-2019, UNIDROIT has actively participated in three more workshops (Vienna, 12-15 October 2016; Frankfurt, 8-12 March 2017; and Zurich, 28 June-1 July 2017), with a view to ensuring consistency between the PRICL and the UNIDROIT Principles. On 16-17 January 2018, UNIDROIT participated in the 5th PRICL Workshop in Vienna, with the main focus on this occasion being to ensure consistency with and provide interpretation of the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts, particularly on the Rules concerning Remedies. The 6th Workshop of the Project was held in Frankfurt on 6-8 June 2018, with participation of UNIDROIT, and the Working Group thereafter finalised a consolidated draft that was presented to the UNIDROIT Governing Council at its 98th session (Rome, 8-10 May 2019).
At its 98th session, the Governing Council took note of the finalised version of the black-letter rules and comments of the PRICL, commended their use of the UNIDROIT Principles on International Commercial Contracts as a model and as rules of general contract law, and authorised the Secretariat to refer to the text of the PRICL on the UNIDROIT Website once the publication was finalised.
On 10 May 2019, as a conclusive event to the 98th session of the Unidroit Governing Council, members of the Working Group on the Principles of Reinsurance Contract Law Project, Professors Helmut Heiss and Diana Cerini as well as Mr Lari Kuitunen and Dr Eberhard Witthoff made presentations on the finalised PRICL rules and comments. The presentations will be published in the Uniform Law Review.
(1) Principles of European Insurance Contract Law, Edited by Project Group "Restatement of European Insurance Contract Law”, established by Fritz Reichert-Facilides †, Chairman: Helmut Heiss, Sellier European Law Publishers (October 2009).