Product Liability - A Guide For Producers and Suppliers
As a Producer, you may be become legally liable for any loss or injury caused by your ‘defective products’. In Europe, the European Product Liability Directives (85/374/EEC and 1999/34/EC) and national legislation in each member state have been developed to ‘protect consumer rights’, and these place an obligations on you, as a producer or supplier, to ensure that your products are ‘as safe as reasonably practical’.
The European Product Liability Directives define:-
- When a product should be considered defective
- Who is responsible when defective products are supplied
- The consumer’s rights to compensation for loss or injury
- The arguments that you, as a producer, may use to defend yourselves against claims for compensation
Under the European Directives your liability is not limited to items that you manufacture, but extends to:-
- Any item you import into the European Union
- Any Item or product that is marketed as your product or carries your brand markings
- All component parts incorporated in your product,
- Any product that incorporates your component parts
However producers may the also face claims for compensation under the Law of Negligence, based on the principle of your Duty of Care from:-
- Commercial organisations, that can not claim for damage to ‘commercial property’ under the EU Product Liability Directives.
- Consumers in Europe who may also be making a claim under the European Product Liability Directives
- Consumers in other markets who are not protected by the EU Directives
The European General Product Safety 2001/95/EC also requires all suppliers (including producers) to take reasonable care to prevent the sale or use of unsafe products, and makes it a criminal offence to knowingly supply unsafe products.
Companies that discover that they that have supplied defective products are required to take action to remove the risk to public safety and must comply with regulations that govern product recall procedures in each market.
Particular care must be taken if any products you supply are distributed or used in the USA, or incorporated in products sold there, because they have strict reporting requirements and a more aggressive legal environment.
In the USA:-
- The National Highway Transport Safety Authority is the regulator for vehicles and component parts
- The Consumer Protection Safety Commission is the main regulator for other products
Engineers and managers responsible for the product design, production or marketing need to understand the law and adopt a pro-active approach to risk management, in order to avoid potential litigation and prosecution. Stunell Technology provides Product Liability Training for engineers and managers who need to understand the law, enabling them to adopt a pro-active risk management, based on the use of an effective quality management system that:-
- Prevents the supply of defective products
- Provides the evidence required to defend spurious or malicious claims
Our Industry Recommend Training for engineers by engineers, will introduce and explain;-
- The relationship between Civil and Criminal and Contract law
- How Contract Terms and Conditions, agreed with supply chain partners may influence your legal liability
- Your duty of Duty of Care and how to avoid Claims of Negligence
- How you can use an Effective Quality Management System, supported by Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) and FMEA’s to identify control and eliminate the causes of failure in product design and manufacturing process
- The European Product Liability Directives including;-
- What is a defective product?
- Who can make a claim under the EU directive?
- What must they prove to succeed?
- What can they claim for?
- What is Strict Liability?
- Who is responsible for defective products?
- What is meant by Joint Liability?
- The permitted defence arguments – why you may not be liable
- The legal process and ‘rights of discovery’
- The US experience, including
- The concept of punitive damages
- The introduction of the TREAD ACT and it’s impact
- The effect of the effect of the new EU General Product Safety Directive
Our training is intended for engineers and managers, responsible for the design, production or marketing of products for ‘global markets’ and is therefore delivered by an engineer with over 20 years experience in the automotive industry. Using ‘real examples’ to illustrate the legal principles, we show how ‘good practice’ minimises the risk of loss or injury and eliminates the risk of future litigation.
Training is normally delivered as ‘in-house’ courses, allowing delegates to discuss sensitive and confidential issues as they apply the legal principles to their own business situation.