From Rome to Sydney
From Rome to Sydney
Dott. Adelmo Kohler Rome 27.11.1914 – Meknés (Morocco) 19.5.1998
Honorary Member of AIDA – Former Secretary General from 1962 to 1974
When, on 28th April 1960 in Luxembourg the International Association for Insurance Law (AIDA) was born, not one of the authoritative jurists who had founded it, not even the most optimistic one, could imagine that in a very short time the idea launched from tiny Luxembourg would be favourably welcomed by some 50 Countries of all continents.
Thus the 16 jurists who had promoted the initiative witnessed the realization of their special wish, i.e. the comparative study of insurance law, which had been pursued by several famed jurists like Cesare Vivante, Georges Ripert, Ernst Bruck and Albert Ehrenzweig senior already at the beginning of this century, specially between the I and H world wars.
The constituent assembly of AIDA, held in Luxembourg at the International University of Comparative Sciences, appointed a provisional Committee of Directors and two co-Presidents, Prof. Antigono Donati and Prof. Hans Möller, who were entrusted with the task of promoting the foundation of national Chapters of AIDA in the Latin world (Donati) and in the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic world (Möller). In the course of that same assembly Prof. Donati proposed that the first World Congress be held in Rome.
The first national Chapter was established in Italy on 19th May 1960, that is within a month of the foundation of AIDA. At the end of 1960 already 16 national Chapters could be counted in Europe, America and Asia. The organizational work went on at an energetic pace in the following two years so as to ensure a large participation of jurists from all over the world to the first World Congress of Rome.
The Rome Congress, held from the 4th to the 7th of April 1962, was organized by a Scientific Council of Directors chaired by the Association’s co-President Prof. Donati, in his capacity of President of the Italian Chapter, the host of the event. This first world assizes of insurance jurists recorded a concourse far beyond all expectations: some 1.000 congressmen from no less than 50 Countries. Among the participants there were top level representatives of juridical science and of the insurance sector in the world. The Congress was opened in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic and closed by the Foreign Affairs Minister. Moreover, one of the members of the Mexican delegation was Emilio Portes Gil, former President of the Republic. Thus reality had exceeded the most rosy hopes and paved the way for the future progress of the Association.
Quite wisely the first Congress dealt exclusively with fundamental issues. In fact Prof. Donati in his opening address stated that “Considering the large concourse to this Congress and therefore the presence of scholars of so different origins, rather than on particular issues, it is necessary to reach an understanding on questions of principle, on large trends, on overall architectural lines”. The three themes were the juridical concept of insurance, the functions and action range of private insurance and State welfare, State control on insurance.
The Congress hosted the General Assembly of national Chapters which approved the international By-Laws of AIDA and made the social appointments. Prof. Donati was elected by acclamation to first President of the Association for the four-year term from 1962 to 1966.
The first Rome Congress was followed by a second one held in Hamburg in 1966 which dealt with insurance themes of more direct import and concerning several Countries, it dealt even with a few nerve-racking issues like State intervention in respect of insurance companies in difficulties, the means of reducing the costs of civil liability insurers, the effect of the policyholder’s behavior on the guarantee provided for by the contract. And in Hamburg the general reports on the themes to be debated were for the first time drawn up on the basis of the national reports prepared by the various Chapters. This policy made it possible to produce general reports that, beside possessing a most distinguished scientific value, represent a truly unique source of insurance documentation.
Pursuant to the By-Laws and therefore once every four years the following Congresses were held in Paris (1970), Lausanne (1974), Madrid (1978), London (1982), Budapest (1986), Copenhagen (1990) and this year the event is taking place in Sydney.
A summary account of the themes, participants and features of each World Congress cannot be adequately offered in this presentation and, in any case, consultation of the Yearbook will provide all relevant details. And still, on the other hand, we like to recall to memory the Paris and Budapest Congresses. The first one because the Rectors of the Universities of Rome and Paris were present for the formal award to Prof. Donati, the then current President of AIDA, of three volumes of Studies in his honour. The ceremony was held in the presence of M. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, French Minister of economy and finance and future President of the Republic.
The Budapest Congress is also worthy of mention because it was the first one in a socialist Country. The large concourse of jurists from socialist and western Countries evidentiated that one of the main purposes of AIDA, i.e. international scientific cooperation, had been successfully attained.
Under art. 3 of the By-Laws of AIDA it is stated that, beside World Congresses, the Chapters may meet for study conferences at a regional or transnational level. This has punctually occurred with the organization of 4 Panamerican Congresses and 3 Ibero-Latin-American Congresses.
The first Panamerican Congress of insurance law was held in Mexico City in 1964, only two years after the Rome World Congress. It was organized by a man of prestige like Emilio Portes Gil, former President of the Mexican Republic, and the concourse of jurists from American and European Countries was very large. Also this Congress, like the previous one of Rome, was officially opened in the presence of Adolfo Lopez Mateos, the then current President of the Republic of Mexico. The subsequent Panamerican congresses were held in Buenos Aires (1969) and in Rio de Janeiro (1971 and 1984).
Beside the continental Congresses, also the intercontinental Congresses must be mentioned like the 3 Ibero-Latin-American Congresses of Bogotà (1990), Mexico City (1991) and Buenos Aires (1993) promoted by the Ibero-Latin-American Committee of AIDA.
All such Congresses limited to one or two continents obviously concentrated on themes of primary interest for their geographical areas but never lost sight of their universal significance.
The activity of AIDA has not been limited to Congresses, even though they represent a unique opportunity for insurance jurists of all parts of the world. Thus, in order to examine in depth some issues of vital importance for all Countries, AIDA has formed special international Working Groups that include the representatives of many Chapters. The first two Groups were formed in Lausanne in 1974 in order to continue the study of the themes “Insurance and acts of violence”, and “Risk accumulation and subrogation” debated in the course of that year’s World Congress. Similarly, in 1978 in Madrid two more Groups were formed for the study of “Prevention and insurance” and “Pollution and insurance”. Subsequently, other Groups were formed to study other issues of great interest, even though not dealt with during previous World Congresses. At present 8 Groups are at work and 2 of them, “Pollution and insurance” and “Motor insurance”, publish also a Newsletter.
In describing the activities of AIDA from 1960 to this date, it is important to note that, whilst the purpose for Congresses is the debate of the most significant insurance themes at worldwide level, the various Chapters are engaged in the study of the same issues from a national point of view and each one in its respective Country contributes appropriately to finding possible solutions. Additionally, a few of them, like Japan, Italy, Poland and Spain have formed regional Subsections. The Italian Subsections, for instance, have been and will continue to be particularly active (the Piemonte-Valle d’Aosta, Liguria and Lombardia Subsections deserve special mention).
Thanks to their congresses, symposia, seminars and colloquia, the Chapters had the great merit of attracting, as never before, the attention of their Country’s jurists and rulers on insurance themes. In one branch of insurance, like that of motor liability, the contribution of some national Chapters of AIDA has been absolutely decisive for the formation of laws and their relevant implementation procedures. In this connection suffice it to mention the contributions that resulted from the meetings of the Spanish Chapter in Bilbao and Madrid in 1963 and in Sevilla in 1965, of the Italian Chapter in 1964 and 1967, of the Israeli Chapter in 1964 and of the Argentinian Chapter in 1970.
More than once some AIDA Chapters organized meetings at international level in order to learn also the experience gained abroad on the themes to be debated: for their frequency we like to mention the Gand colloquia, organized by the Belgian Chapter, the London colloquia of the British Chapter (BILA) and the recent Budapest colloquia of the Hungarian Chapter.
Finally, a large part of AIDA’s activities is punctually and amply documented by a series of publications. To be mentioned are the Proceedings of all World and Continental Congresses and of important meetings, the collections of studies on the themes dealt with by some Working Groups (Pollution, Products liability), the monographies (remarkable that on The insurance contract in European Common Market Countries national laws by Professors Donati, Gambino and Pino and published by the Italian Chapter in 1963). Amongst the most recent editorial initiatives the volume of Studies in honour of the late lamented Honorary President of AIDA, Prof. André Besson (Hommage to André Besson), edited by the Hungarian Chapter in 1987, and the valuable collection of 27 monographies on insurance contract law by the Belgian Council member Prof. Marcel Fontaine, which consists of two volumes published in 1990 and in 1992 respectively.
Additionally AIDA performs editorial activities also of a periodical character. Beside the already mentioned Newsletters of the Working Groups, as of 1979 a Lettre d’information de I’AIDA – AIDA News conceived and edited by Prof. Simon Fredericq, which provides national Chapters with useful information on the activities of AIDA with regard to developments in insurance law, doctrine and jurisprudence. Moreover, at the beginning of this year the Lloyd’s of London Press together with AIDA published the first issue of the quarterly scientific review The International Journal of Insurance Law chief editor of which is John Butler, the current President of AIDA. This Review is meant to supply news, comments and notes on the progresses of insurance law worldwide, with particular reference to the activities of AIDA.
Also worthy of mention, in conclusion, is the institution of the AIDA Medal, resolved upon by the Presidential Council at the Copenhagen Congress, to be awarded to authoritative jurists who have significantly contributed to the development of insurance law. During the same Congress, and in advance in respect of the provisions of the new international By-Laws of AIDA, the Medal was awarded and solemnly delivered to the living founder of the Association, Prof. Antigono Donati.
Finally we take pleasure in mentioning that on 4th May 1990, on the occasion of a grand event held in Rome and hosted by the prestigious Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Prof. Antigono Donati, the importance of AIDA’s three decades of work dedicated to the development of insurance law worldwide was specially praised. During that event, attended by high representatives of the Government and by scholars of legal and insurance disciplines, as well as a great number of members of AIDA from all Italian Regions, then the Minister of Justice delivered to Prof. Donati a special gold medal of AIDA in recognition of his great merits as founders, living soul and organizer of the Association.
By the date this Yearbook sees the light, AIDA shall be ready to celebrate its IX World Congress in Sydney, Australia. This Congress is being organized by a Chapter that, established only in 1983, has already some 1.200 members. This shows how unchanged is the enthusiasm that gave birth to AIDA in 1960 and, above all, how high its prestige is today in all parts of the world. Surely such prestige derives to AIDA from having always had top level representatives of insurance sciences and practice among its members. To this fact, however, one should add the Association’s undeniable achievements, which we have only very briefly outlined, wereby AIDA has pursued an objective of greatest importance: the alignment of different’ juridical schools for the purpose of attaining an harmonic development of an economic sector of high import such as insurance definitely is.
Dott. Adelmo Kohler