Legal Services - Faulty Products
At One-Stop-Law Ltd we can help you make a claim for compensation on a No Win No Fee* basis.
Every day of our lives we consume, use, or simply come into contact with countless different products. We should be able to assume that those products are safe. Not absolutely safe - that remains unattainable. Nor safe at unbearable cost to industry - that would put innovation at risk. But as safe as is reasonable to expect. The aim of the Consumer Protection Act is to help safeguard the consumer from products that do not reach a reasonable level of safety.
Clearly the consumer gains from this legislation. But forward-looking firms will also recognise that it is in their interest to outlaw unfair competition from traders who cut corners on safety. The Act is important to all those with an interest in the safety of products that are put onto the market.
PRODUCT LIABILITY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN
What does it mean?
- People injured by defective products may have the right to sue for damages; product liability is the term given to laws affecting those rights.
- In the past those injured had to prove a manufacturer negligent before they could successfully sue for damages. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 removes the need to prove negligence. A customer can already sue a supplier, without proof of negligence, under the sale of goods law. The Act provides the same rights to anyone injured by a defective product, whether or not the product was sold to them.
- The Act does not affect any existing civil laws governing product liability. No liability is imposed under the Act in respect of products first supplied before 1 March 1988.
- The Act implements the European Community directive on product liability, which provides a similar degree of protection for people throughout the European Community
An injured person can take action against:
Producers:- usually the manufacturer or, in the case of raw materials, the person who mined or otherwise obtained them. Also included are processors (for example pea canners), but those involved solely in packaging are not affected unless the packaging alters the essential characteristics of the products.
Importers:- meaning importers into the European Community, not just into the
Own-branders:- suppliers who put their own name on the product and give the impression that they are the producers.
Other suppliers:- such as wholesalers and retailers, are not liable unless they fail to identify the producer, importer or "own-brander” if asked to do so by a person suffering damage.
Liability under the Act is joint and several, so the Claimant may sue both (or all, if more than two) defendants. It is not possible to exclude liability under the Act by means of any contract term or other provision.
WHAT PRODUCTS ARE COVERED
Liability under this part of the Act applies to all consumer goods and goods used at a place of work. From 4 December 2000 all food is covered. Prior to this date food sold in its raw state was excluded.
Buildings are not covered although individual goods from which they are built (e.g. bricks and beams) are covered.
Liability under the Act extends to components and raw materials. If a finished product contains a defect in a particular component, both the manufacturer of the finished product and the component manufacturer may be liable.
The Act is not intended to extend to pure information. Printed matter is not therefore covered, except in the case of instructions or warnings for a product (in which case the producer of the product - not the printer - will be liable for errors or omissions in the instructions or warnings which make the product unsafe). Similarly, a design consultant will not be liable under the Act for a mistake in a design which causes a product to be defective; the producer of the product itself will be liable. Similar considerations are relevant to software. Computer software is often supplied as an intrinsic part of a product and in some cases can cause personal injury (for example airline navigation systems or production line robots). Again, liability in such cases is imposed on the producer of the product.
WHAT IS A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT?
A defective product is defined as one where the safety of the product is not such as persons generally are entitled to expect. This definition provides an objective test of defectiveness and refers neither to the particular injured person nor to the particular producer.
A product will not be considered defective solely because it is of poor quality.
A product will not be considered defective simply because a safer version is subsequently put on the market. 13 When deciding whether a product is defective, a court will take into account all the relevant circumstances including:
· the manner in which a product is marketed;
· any instructions or warnings that are given with it;
· what might reasonably be expected to be done with it
· the time the producer supplied the product
The criteria of what might reasonably be expected to be done with a product, and consequently what instructions and warnings are given, are particularly important for producers and importers whose products are often misused.
WHAT SORT OF DAMAGE IS COVERED?
A person can sue under the Act for compensation for:
- personal injury
- private property (provided the amount of loss or damage is £275 or more).
The Act imposes no financial limit on a producer’s total liability.
The Claimant must be able to show that, on the balance of probabilities, the defect in the product caused the damage.
WHAT DEFENCES ARE THERE?
A producer or importer can avoid liability if he can prove any of six defences:
· he did not supply the product (e.g. it was stolen or is a counterfeit copy of his products);
· the state of scientific and technical knowledge at the time he supplied the product was not such that a producer of products of the same description as the product in question might be expected to have discovered the defect if it had existed in his products while they were under his control (the so-called "development risks defence”);
· the defect was caused by complying with the law. Compliance with a regulation will not necessarily discharge a producer from liability; in order to claim the defence he would have to show that the defect was the inevitable result of compliance;
· the defect was not in the product at the time it was supplied (e.g. if a product becomes defective because a retailer handles it carelessly);
· the product was not supplied in the course of a business, for example, the donation of homemade toys for sale at the occasional church bazaar or sales by private individuals of second-hand goods;
· the producer of a component will not be liable if he is able to show that the defect was due either to the design of the finished product, or to defective specifications given to the component manufacturer by the producer of the finished product.
The extent of the defendant’s liability could be affected by any contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff, e.g. if he contributed to his injuries by his own carelessness.
WHEN CAN INJURED PEOPLE SUE?
A Claimant must begin his court action within three years of the date he was injured by the defective product or, if later, the date when they knew they had a claim against the defendant. However, an injured person cannot sue under this part of the Act if ten years have elapsed since the defective product was supplied by the producer.
To find out more as to whether you are able to make a claim then contact us and our solicitors will guide you as to whether you may have a claim for compensation.
Call us Today on 0808 129 4400 to see if you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation or fill in our simple claim form online.