What is the responsibility of the owner?

By virtue of art. 58, al. 1 of the Code of Obligations (CO) , the owner of a building or any other work (eg a house) is liable for damage caused by defects in construction or by lack of maintenance. This is a so-called causal responsibility, because the owner must vouch for the damage caused by his defective work independently of his own responsibility.



By work is meant a stable, artificial (man-made) and attached real estate object directly or indirectly on the ground (e.g. road, building, ski slope, playground equipment, swimming pool).


Defective work?

A work is defective when it does not offer sufficient security for the use for which he is destined. However, the owner of the work is entitled to expect that users will make adequate use of it and observe a minimum of caution. Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, icy access to a house, lack of road signs or insufficient marking of stairs in the vestibule of the toilets a hotel can be considered as a defect of work. If it is a construction defect, the owner is responsible for the damage caused regardless of whether or not he knew of its existence. On the contrary, if it is a maintenance defect, the owner's responsibility depends first of all on the checks that can be reasonably required of him and on the possibilities of remedying the faults of the work in time to disposal.


Exclusion of owner's liability?

Signs disclaiming any liability in the event of an accident do not exclude the responsibility of the owner of the work. The latter is not liable in the event of an accident if and only if all the objectively necessary and reasonably exigible safety measures have been taken during construction and, in particular, during maintenance of the work. It also involves carrying out periodic inspections of existing structures, documenting them and carrying out the necessary maintenance and repairs.



Provided that the owner of the work is responsible for the damage, he can appeal against the persons responsible under art. 58, al. 2, CO. It is thus conceivable that he could transfer his responsibility to the supplier on the basis of a contractual report or to the manufacturer or constructor of the defective work based on the federal law on product liability. ).

Source from BFU (Office of Accident Prevention)