Imperial has extensive experience in settling product liability claims on behalf of insurers, manufacturers, vendors and corporate clients.
Product liability refers to holding a manufacturer or a seller liable for a defective product that has been put into the hands of a consumer. Responsibility for a product defect that causes an injury rests with the seller of the product and the suppliers who are in the chain of distribution to the end customer.
A product is “defective” if either:
- it does not perform as can be expected from its specifications; or
- it is not as safe as can be expected under certain conditions, in particular its appearance, its expected use at the time of its release.
The types of damage that are recoverable are:
- Damage caused such as death or injury to persons.
- Damage or destruction caused by a defective product to assets of the consumer other than the defective product itself, including the right to use environmental assets, provided that: the damage exceeds €500; and the product was normally intended for and actually used by the injured person for his own private use or consumption.
Compensation for moral damage or pain and suffering (for the family of the deceased) may also be claimed.
Full damages may be claimed in an action in tort.
In the context of contractual liability, the buyer has the possibility to claim:
- Repair or replacement of the defective product.
- reduction of the price.
- rescission of the contract; or
- compensation for the damage caused by the non-fulfillment of the contract;
The injured party is entitled to monetary compensation in civil proceedings. Criminal or administrative proceedings, which are also prosecuted, do not aim at compensating the victim.
In the context of a class action, consumer associations may request this:
- That the producer ceases unlawful conduct even before it occurs.
- that the defective products must be recalled, seized (as an injunction) or even destroyed.
- moral damages to be paid; and
- the court recognizes the right of consumers to be compensated for the harm they have suffered because of the manufacturer’s unlawful conduct.