Autonomous vehicles law and regulation in Colombia

1. Is the testing of AVs (SAE Levels 3-5) permitted on public roads in your jurisdiction?

Most of the cars driven on Colombian streets have a 0-automaticity level. Therefore, this type of test has not been implemented in Colombian territory.

2. Are consumers permitted to use AVs (SAE Levels 3-5) on public roads in your jurisdiction?

Yes. Since vehicles with a certain level of automaticity are not used in Colombia, there is no specific prohibition or regulation on the use of this type of vehicle in Colombian territory.

3. Who has liability for damages caused by a car in automated driving mode?

Colombia does not have autonomous vehicles in its territory. Therefore, there is no corresponding legislation stating who would have liability for damages caused by a car in automated driving mode. However, this has been the subject of several academic studies that suggest, in this event, "defective product" regulation should be applied.

In Colombia, the liability regime for defective products is essentially enshrined in three normative sources: the Political Constitution, Law 1480 of 2011 and Regulatory Decree 679 of 2016. 1 Regarding the regulatory decree (679 of 2016), it is enough to point out that it contains regulations on the procedure to follow when a member of the production chain is aware that a product is defective.

Article 78 of the constitution provides:

"They will be responsible, in accordance with the law, those who in the production and marketing of goods and services, attempt against health, safety and the adequate provisioning to consumers and users."

The Supreme Court stated:

"In order to make effective the protection of the interests of consumers and users, given the evident position of inferiority or weakness that they ordinarily occupy in commercial traffic and the asymmetry that characterises their legal-economic relations with distributors or manufacturers, the Political Constitution provided a special responsibility 2 Supreme Court of Justice, Civil Cassation Chamber, M.P. César Julio Valencia Copete. Judgment of September 24, 2009. .

For the producer to be found responsible, it is not necessary to demonstrate negligent action, and in the same sense, demonstrating that his actions were diligent is not enough to exonerate him from liability 3 Cure, Daniel. THE CIVIL LIABILITY SYSTEM FOR AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES IN COLOMBIA. Legal monograph. Javeriana university. Year 2019. . Article 21 of Law 1480 sets forth that to determine his liability, the affected party must demonstrate the defect, the damage and the causal link between them.

Thus, the Colombian legislation has established a joint liability among the members of the productive chain, as stated in article 20 of Law 1480 according to which both the producer 4 Law 1480 of 2011. Article 5. Definitions: (…) 9. Producer: Who habitually, directly or indirectly, designs, produces, manufactures, assembles or imports products. It is also considered a producer, who designs, produces, manufactures, assembles, or imports products subject to technical regulations or sanitary or phytosanitary measures. (…) 11. Supplier or vendor: Who regularly, directly or indirectly, offers, supplies, distributes or market products for profit or not.  and seller are jointly and severally liable. 

Even though in Colombia there is no history of this type of accident, there is a tendency to protect the consumer. However, if the cause of the accident comes from an action that should have been exercised by the owner of the car (repair, maintenance, etc.) the owner will be liable.

4. Are there any specific mandatory insurance requirements for AVs?

Colombian legislation has not regulated the AV system. However, there is compulsory insurance for all automobiles in Colombia, which is called SOAT. This insurance applies to all damages caused to the insured, the vehicle's occupants, and   pedestrians who may be affected by a traffic accident.

5. Is there general liability based on warranty claims against the manufacturer for AVs?

Colombian legislation has not regulated the AV issue. However, we do have a consumer protection regulation, which is applicable to all warranty claims against the manufacturer.

Law 1480 of 2011 states that the producer and/or distributors have the obligation to put only safe products on the market and, if necessary, respond for the health and physical integrity of the consumer or his goods.

In article 6, it sets forth the duty of producers to ensure the quality, suitability and safety of the products, and "the breach of said obligation is the source of the administrative, joint and several liability for defective products."

Consistent with the above clause, article 3 states that consumers have security and indemnity rights, meaning that “the products must not cause damage under normal conditions of use and producers must protect consumers against harmful consequences for health, life or integrity”. 

In the same line, paragraph 14 of article 5 states that safety is the “condition of the product in accordance with its normal situations of use, taking into account the duration, the information provided in the terms of this law and, if applicable, the commissioning, installation, maintenance, does not present unreasonable risks to the health or integrity of consumers ”.

In this way, producers are only obliged to place products that do not present unreasonable risks to consumers. This is how Colombian legislation encourages the development of sufficiently safe products.

In this same sense, the Colombian Constitutional Court has indicated: “The Constitution orders the existence of a field of protection in favour of the consumer, inspired by the purpose of restoring equality before producers and distributors, given the real asymmetry in which the person who goes to the market in of satisfying their human needs 5 Constitutional Court. Judgment C-1141/2000. M.P. Eduardo Cifuentes Muñoz. August 30, 2000. .

Importantly, in Colombia there is no jurisprudence in this regard. However, if the cause of the accident comes from an action that should be exercised by the owner of the car (repair, maintenance, etc.) the owner will be liable.

Portrait of Carolina Arenas
Carolina Arenas