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 . value of defective product pure economic loss - Murphy v Brentwood DC . but: complex structure theory may apply: damage by one part of product to another part recoverable - Aswan Engineering Establishment Co v Lupdine Ltd : 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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