Product Liability and Importers

Under the defective products legislation, a manufacturer can be liable for personal injuries and damages caused by a defective consumer used product. This liability lasts for up to 10 years. Where it arises product liability insurance would be necessary against the risks.

Normally a producer of business is only liable in respect of defective products when it has been shown to be negligent. Under defective products legislation, the producer primarily means the manufacturer or producer of the product concerned or in some cases (components et cetera), It also includes persons who put their name trademark on the products or holds themselves out as a producer. It also includes a person who has imported the product into the EU from a place outside the EU in the course of business.

The producer of a product is liable in damages for loss suffered caused by a defect in the product. In this context, the loss means personal injury death or damage to other property other than the product itself. In the present context, there is an important limitation. The strict liability applies for the product is the type ordinarily intended for private use or consumption and was used by an injured person mainly for his own private use or consumption.

Where the goods are of a type intended for private use or consumption by the public the defective products liability legislation could kick in. This creates prospective liability for an importer into the EU where somebody suffers physical bodily damage and damage to property (other than the goods themselves).

The liability rests with the “producer” who may be one or more of a number of parties. Each may be sued, and a court may apportion liability. Under general provisions, any party who was found liable may be prospectively liable for the whole damage in which event its only recourse would be against other parties for a fair share. If both parties are bankrupt, do not exist or it is too late to pursue them, it will have no recourse.

Normally this liability rests with the manufacturer. When there is no EU based manufacturer the importer may be liable as a producer.