Defective Product Liability* or Product Liability*

In Ireland, liability for defective products falls under four main headings; Statute, Tort, Criminal and Contract law. Product liability is a busy area of law and deals with injuries caused by defective products produced by manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers and others. A defect is anything which results in the product failing to provide the safety a consumer is entitled to expect, taking into account all the circumstances.

At Coleman Legal Partners we have significant experience in dealing with claims arising from injuries sustained from defective or dangerous products. This also extends to construction defects in buildings and Pyrite defect claims. Our recent work on the PIP breast implant recalls and De Puy Hip Implants Recall place our firm at the coalface of landmark litigation in this area in the Irish Courts. This experience coupled with our knowledge of medical negligence practice and procedure ensures clients receive a comprehensive service.

Statute

The Liability for Defective Product Acts 1991 provides the majority of protection in this area. It protects consumers from products that do not reach a reasonable level of safety and cause foreseeable injury or damage and it was implemented on the back of EC Directive 85/374.

The 1991 Act simplifies litigation and the claimant need not show negligence on the part of the producer and can instead rely on proof that the product was defective and also that a causal link exists between the defective nature of the product and the damage suffered. Under the 1991 Act a producer shall be strictly liable for damages in Tort for damage (either to property or an individual) caused wholly or partly by a defect in a product. The main effect of the Act is to introduce into Irish Law the principle of “strict” or “no fault” liability. The Act supplements rather than replaces remedies in Contract and Tort. Lastly, it is worth distinguishing that the 1991 Act only covers products that are defective and dangerous as a result – products that are not dangerous but which may be poorly made or ‘cheap’ are not covered by the 1991 Act.

The Act can be seen on the Irish Statute Book online in its entirety here.

Contract

The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 covers the contractual element of defective products and provides consumers with the option of recourse should they need to avail of it. Section 10 of the 1980 Act implies that into the contract for the sale of a good that such an item must be of ‘merchantable quality’; the Act also provides that goods of reasonable quality taking into account what they are meant to do, their durability and their price.

Goods are also meant to be fit for their purpose and they must be as described. The buyer must not be misled into buying something by the description of goods or services given orally by a salesperson or an advertisement or details on the packaging.

Criminal

The General Product Safety Regulations 2004 which implemented EC Directive 2001/95 is the principal piece of legislation imposing criminal liability for placing unsafe products on the market.

Tort

Liability in tort is fault based. For an action to lie in tort, there must be: a duty of care owed by the producer or manufacturer of the product; a breach of that duty of care; and a causal relationship between the breach and the damage caused to the user of the product. Unlike under the 1991 Act, a plaintiff suing in tort may, in certain circumstances, succeed in a negligence action for non-dangerous defects.

There are strict regulations to ensure our health and safety when it comes to the products we buy. We, as consumers, expect the things we buy to be safe, but sometimes there are instances when some products may be faulty or defective and as a result can cause serious personal injury. This is the reason why there is a need for a stringent product liability law. Product manufacturers can be held liable for design defects and manufacturing flaws, for not including adequate safeguards particularly on dangerous products and for inadequate product warnings or information on those products.

Our offices can represent clients who have fallen victim to any defective products which can include:

• Unsafe medical devices
• Unsafe cars and other motor vehicles
• Dangerous toys
• Unsafe consumer and household products
• Industrial machinery and equipment
• Farm machinery and equipment
• Defective car components
• Dangerous household appliances
• Defective construction equipment

If any defective product has harmed you or your family, you should:

a) Preserve the product in question
b) Keep any receipts / proof of purchase
c) Make a note of the particulars of the purchase e.g. when and where

Contact us about Defective Product Litigation

Contact Rose Sweeney or Keith Rolls by email or FREEphone us on 1800 844 104.


*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.