Collapse of cornice in condominium: request for damages for interruption of commercial activity


Emma Potter

Unsafe cornice and urgent works by the individual condominium owner

Of course they conservation and maintenance costs of the cornice (except for particular indications in the regulation) must be divided among all condominiumseach in proportion to its share expressed in thousandths. In other words, as provided for in Article 1123 of the Civil Code, the costs necessary for the conservation of this facade artefact are borne by the condominiums in proportion to the value of each individual's property.

It deserves to be remembered that if a condominium owner, in compliance with a union order, carries out works urgently to ensure safety the building, subsequently, as required by article 1134 of the civil code, must be seen reimburse the costs incurred. After all experience urgency it's easy if you give surveys carried out by the Local Policefrom the inspection by the fire brigade (filed in documents), from danger eliminated certificate The need to intervene quickly to eliminate the dangers deriving from the detachment of plaster from the cornice clearly emerges. In any case, the condominium owner can prove the disbursement documentedly, by means of invoices, copies of bank transfers and bank checks.

Cornice and damage to third parties

The condominium responds, pursuant to art. 2051 cc, of damage suffered by extraneous third parties and originating from common parts of the building, while the administrator is only required to manage common things. Naturally, anyone who intends to obtain compensation for damage suffered from the fall of cornices in a condominium is required to demonstrate the causal link between the “collapse” phenomenon of cement parts and the physical damage sustained.

The condominium custodian is responsible for theburden of proof disclaiming fortuitous circumstancesrepresented by a natural fact either of the damaged party or of a third party, characterized by unpredictability and inevitability, without any relevance to the diligence or otherwise of the custodian.

Cornice collapse, forced interruption of commercial activity and request for damages to the condominium: a recent case

A company, owner of a pastry baraddressed the Court explaining that, from the cornice of the terrace above the condominium building, there were rubble, large stones and various material fell on the pavement in front of his restaurant; subsequently the area in question was isolated and the said company was forced to close the business, reopening it after a certain period of time (seven days). Consequently the same actress claimed compensation from the condominium owners for the damages sufferedinforming the building's insurance company of the incident.

The Court has rejected the request of the actress. The deciding party noted that the company has certainly proven the event, i.e. the event from which it claims to have subsequently resulted, due to the impossibility of visiting the places of the accident, a detriment to its commercial activity, while, conversely, the agreed condominium, as custodian of the building, did not provide any evidence of fortuitous event, nor of any contribution, whether by a third party or by the injured person himself, in the production of the event. As the Court underlined, from the examination of the testimonies it also emerged that due to the collapse of the material at the top of the condominium building, the activity of the plaintiff company had to suffer a forced stop lasting five days (therefore it was proven the so-called causal link). The company though failed to prove damagei.e. the consistency of the economic damage alleged by the plaintiff, as it did not find suitable evidentiary confirmation in the documentation produced.

In any case, fromexamination of the insurance contract stipulated by the condominium under the heading “Exclusions”, you could read the following: “they are expressly excluded from insurance coverage damages to third parties resulting from total or partial interruptions or suspensions of activities, industrial, commercial, artisanal, professional, agricultural or service”. However, the condominium did not request additional guarantees, i.e. coverage also for damage from business interruption.