Safety and Liability Rules in European Ski Areas

International Workshop
11 dicembre 2015
12 dicembre 2015
11 - 12 dicembre 2015

Video 11/12: Parte I; Parte II; Parte III; Parte IV; Parte V.

The main goal of the workshop is to gather in Trento a group of legal and economic scholars from Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Holland, UK, Poland, and Italy, providing a first academic venue for canvassing and discussing the legal and economic issues surrounding the pursuit of safety in the European ski areas, with an overall focus on how well the rules of civil liability and the regulations enforced by the national courts of the European Member states represented in the workshop score when considered in light of the goal of the optimal distribution of the social costs of ski accidents.

One of the desirable goals of the workshop is to assess to what extent existing differences among the Member states, as to the legal rules deployed to increase the safety of ski areas, may affect the competition in the market of winter tourism destinations within the EU, suggesting the feasibility of drafting uniform rules at the European level affecting the level of safety of ski areas and the civil liability of skiers and ski area operators.

There is reason to believe that this goal is grounded, and that at the European level (but sometimes also within a given national legal system, due to the heterogeneity of regional regulations), different approaches to the fundamental issue of the appropriate level of safety and liability in the ski areas may lead to uncompetitive costs, affecting not only the competition game among operators, but also the level of protection unevenly offered to European consumers who choose and buy the services needed to fulfil their recreational desire of skiing.

Germane to these goals is the scientific intention to create a stable international network of scholars interested to develop data on the topic and to study them in comparative and interdisciplinary vein.

Topics | Scientific program


Faculty of Law main building, University of Trento, Conference Room, Via Verdi, 53 - Trento - Italy

  • English
  • French 

Among the general themes and the more specific questions that participants will address in their presentations, answering in light of the respective national experiences but with a comparative slant, are the following:

  1. Unsafe skiing and its costs: data on ski accidents and their economic costs.
  2. Benefits of skiing: the economics of skiing; returns to the local mountain communities (data and patterns of evolution).
  3. Managing a safe ski area: public or private ownership?; institutional paths of management of the ski area; ex ante safety provisions; administrative regulations.
  4. Issuing safety: the role of social norms, technical norms, legislation and courts; possible issues entailed by the interplay of local and regional rules with national laws.
  5. Perceiving safety: cognitive issues; the interplay b/w safer slopes and the skiers’ escape from perceived safety; the booming attraction of wild paths, free ride and extra slope skiing; the “caveat skier” solution and the ski area operator role when skiers gain altitude for free riding buying ski passes; defining the ski area borders: where the obligation of safety ends?
  6. Patrolling safety: the role of new technologies; other tools to prevent risky behaviours on the slopes; the cost of supervising and policing the ski area, and to provide for rescue and emergency services for skiers: public or private approaches?
  7. Assessing safety: civil liability for accidents occurring on the slopes; paths of litigation (collisions among skiers; skiers vs. ski area operators); role of contractual obligations; role of extra contractual obligations; evidentiary problems; the role of presumptions; ski accidents and law of consumer protection; jurisdictional and litigation issues in case of collision between skiers of different nationalities; jurisdictional issues (consumer’s forum) in light of the European consumer protection rules when injured skiers/consumers sue ski area operators.
  8. Distributing/administering the cost of unsafe skiing: combining insurance models on the snow; first party insurance for skiers; voluntary third party insurance (for skiers and ski area operators); mandatory insurance (for skiers and ski area operators). 

Scientific program

December 11th, 2015 - (all sessions open to public)


Welcome and Introduction

  • Dean Giuseppe Nesi (University of Trento)
  • Umberto Izzo (University of Trento)


First session: Sketching the Economic Contours of the Problem

Chair: Umberto Izzo (University of Trento)

The role of skiing as a driving force of the market of winter tourism destinations and the economic context of the pursuit of safety in European ski areas: National experiences


  • Maria Della Lucia (University of Trento)
  • Valeria Ghezzi (President of ANEF - The Italian Association of Ski Area Operators)


  • Jadwiga Berbeka (Department of Tourism, Kracow University of Economics)
  • Krzysztof Berbeka (Jagiellonian University, Krakow)
10.30-10.45 Coffee break


Second session: Mapping the State of the Art of the Law of Ski Areas in Selected European Jurisdictions

Chair: Thomas Kadner Graziano (University of Geneve)

The cost of unsafe skiing and the pursuit of safety in European ski areas: national legal frameworks


  • Albert Ruda (University of Girona)


  • Philippe Brun (University of Savoie - Mont Blanc)
  • Gregoire Calley (University of Savoie - Mont Blanc)
  • Clément Benelbaz (University of Savoie - Mont Blanc)
  • Christophe Quézel-ambrunaz (University of Savoie - Mont Blanc)

Switzerland and Germany

  • Hannes Meyle (University of Geneve)


  • Andrea Schwaighofer (University of Innsbruck)
13.30-15.00 Lunch break


  • Dominik Wolski (Katowice School of Economics)


  • Umberto Izzo (University of Trento)

The Netherlands and Belgium 

  • Pieter De Tavernier (Leiden University)
16.50-17.10 Tea break



Third session: The Influence of Civil Liability Rules on Safety in European Ski Areas: State of the Art, Options, and Perspectives 

Chair: Alexander Schopper (University of Innsbruck)

A first comparative assessment

  • Thomas Kadner Graziano (University of Geneve)

Debate with the participation of all the speakers of the previous sessions

18.40 Session ends

December 12th, 2015


Fourth session (restricted to participants): The Way Ahead

Chair: Umberto Izzo (University of Trento)

Setting the stage for a European research network addressing the problems of safety and liability rules in European ski areas

12.00 End of the workshop

Registration form - on line is requested for the date of 11th December 2015.
The collaboration of ANEF (Associazione Italiana Esercenti Funiviari) is gratefully acknowledged.

Associazione Nazionale Esercenti Funiviari