What rights do victims of defective products have?
Joanne Bennett (Student)
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 gives rights to victims of defective products, enabling them to bring a claim in a civil court. A claim can be brought by anyone injured by a defective product (not just the person who purchased the product). The claim should be brought against the producer of the product (this is usually the manufacturer).
The person who brings the claim (the Claimant) must prove on the balance of probabilities (more likely than not) that a defect in the product (wholly or partly) caused the damage. A defect could be a manufacturing fault, a design problem, or a lack of safety information. The Claimant does not need to show that the producer was at fault.
The product is considered defective if the safety of the product is not such as ‘persons generally are entitled to expect’. When considering what ‘persons generally are entitled to expect’, the following factors are taken into account:
- How and why the product was marketed (for example, whether it was marketed to a specific category of people such as children)
- Any warnings and instructions provided relating to how the product should be used (do the benefits of the product outweigh any risks provided for in the warning information?)
- What might this product reasonably have been expected to be used for? Was the product used for something outside of this expectation?
- When was the product supplied? (Was this considered a risk for this type of product at the time it was produced?)
If the product was not of a standard that ‘persons generally were entitled to expect’, then the producer may be liable for damage caused by the defective product.
Damage is defined as death or personal injury, or any loss of or damage to property. Injury includes any disease or other impairment of a person’s physical or mental condition, including harm to an unborn baby. Damages can be claimed for pain, suffering or loss of amenity.
Claims must exceed £275 and are limited to property (including land) which is primarily used for personal use. No claim can be brought ten or more years after the product was put into circulation, and claims cannot be brought for damage to the defective product itself.
The producer cannot avoid liability for such damage by using clauses which attempt to exclude or limit their liability.
Here at SULAC, we offer free legal advice for all consumer matters. If you would like an appointment, please call 01782 294800 or email SULAC@Staffs.ac.uk.