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Product Liability Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Tort Law Notes

This is an extract of our Product Liability document, which we sell as part of our GDL Tort Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students.

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Tort: Product Liability Historical Background

- Product liability: consumer sues manufacturer for defective goods causing damage.

- Sources of law. civil law: contract + tort. criminal law: Consumer Protection Act 1989 (Part 3) - criminal offence to sell defective goods enforced by Trading Standards Officers (TSOs). EU law.

- Liability for defective products: contract law, law of tort, statutory provisions. contract law: limited by privity of contract (although Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999). statutes: Sale of Goods Act 1979; Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1995; Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. advantage over tort:

1. no damage needed (product simply defective);

2. no need to prove fault;

3. pure economic loss claims allowed;

4. implied terms used. law of tort: not subject to privity.

- Tort: 2 causes of action for product liability. common law negligence: still used where statute deficient (e.g. limitation period expired). Consumer Protection Act 1987 (Part 1): preferred - imposes strict liability (no need to prove fault).

Liability at Common Law

1. Damage: what to claim for.

- Damage required for tortious liability. merely defective goods: poor functioning/low quality - contract law. dangerous goods: damage from a defect - tort law.

- Type of damage: PI + consequential economic loss (but not pure economic loss). not pure economic loss: damage to property itself - Muirhead v Industrial Tank Specialities Ltd [1986]. value of defective product pure economic loss - Murphy v Brentwood DC [1991]. but: complex structure theory may apply: damage by one part of product to another part recoverable - Aswan Engineering Establishment Co v Lupdine Ltd [1987]: defective plastic buckets melt + damage compound packaged inside ? obiter: claim possible (but failed for remoteness).

- Type of product: most goods, packaging, labelling, instructions/warnings.

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