Public services, privatization, and the responsibility and liability of private and public actors

In recent years, public authorities have been subject to demands for increased efficiency and professionalism. This has led to an increased use of private actors in the public sector.

The market-orientation entails that private parties become providers of central services in society that have traditionally been the responsibility of the public sector. Examples vary in different legal systems but may include healthcare services, long term care services and services that provide safety and security at large. Privatisation tendencies can also be observed in the housing market and in the financial sector. Even in the adjudication system the use of private actors is a common phenomenon.

The increased use of private parties as providers of public services raises the question of the responsibility and liability of these private service providers, driven by commercial incentives rather than public interests. The development also raises the question of the responsibilities and liabilities in the public sector of a widely privatised state.