What does the Liability for Defective Products Act (1991) actually cover?

Under the Liability for Defective Products Act (1991) a producer shall be held strictly liable for damages in tort to either property or an individual which is caused wholly or partly by a defect in their product. Under the Act an injured party has 3 years within which to bring a claim.

  1. Design defects – this occurs when the design of the product is inherently dangerous.
  2. Manufacturing Defects – This usually occurs where defective components are used in the construction of a product or the product has been cheaply produced and is unsafe due to poor workmanship or the materials used.
  3. Marketing Defects – This is the most common heading under which product liability claims are brought and it covers the issue of “failure to warn”. Every company has an obligation to warn consumers about any known hazards or dangers surrounding the normal use of their products. The easiest way for a company to cover themselves is to place warning labels on their products which outline any inherent dangers.

A number of Irish cases have dealt with the failure to place warning labels on clothing where the clothing was found to be highly flammable. However, a basic warning is all that is required in these circumstances. Once it has been established that there was in fact a defect in the product and said defect is covered under the relevant legislation it is then necessary to ascertain who the responsible party is (i.e. who is the producer).

What about the producer?

A PRODUCER IS ANYONE WHO:

  • Manufactures a finished product, raw material or a component of a product;
  • Processes agricultural or other food products (specifically plants, livestock, fish or game);
  • Has imported the product in to the EU to supply it to another person as part of his business;
  • Makes themselves out to be the producer by virtue of attaching their name, brand, trademark etc. to the product;
  • Has supplied the product, where the producer cannot be identified and any attempt by the injured party to elicit the producer’s identity is frustrated or ignored.

If more than one business is responsible for the safety of the same product, the injured party can take any of them to court.

A PRODUCER WILL NOT BE FOUND LIABLE IF THEY ARE IN A POSITION TO PROVE:

  1. They did not put the product in to circulation;
  2. They did not manufacture the product for sale;
  3. The defect causing the damage did not exist when the product was placed on the market i.e. the defect arose or came in to being afterwards;
  4. The defect arose out of compliance with EU law;
  5. According to the latest scientific and technical standards, no one could have foreseen the defect when the product was placed on the market i.e. the advancement in science and technology which was not known at the time the product was placed on the market can be used as a defence. This is a defence of ignorance of the facts;
  6. They manufactured only one component of the product and the defect was as a result of the design of the final product and not the component.

Synnott Lawline Solicitors have years of experience in claims for defective products. If you have been injured as a result of a defective product call us today for advice and a free consultation. If you have a question about this type of claim contact us on Locall 1850 20 40 60, Tel: 01 453 7890 Email us or tell about your case and start your claim today.

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