Product Liability Claims

Product liability claims may be brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (‘CPA’), in negligence, or through a Breach of Contract.


The CPA imposes liability on the producer of defective products for damage caused by the defect. The definition of defective is somewhat open to interpretation but has been defined as ‘A product not being as safe as persons might generally expect them to be.’ Strict liability applies which means it is not necessary to prove that the manufacturer was at fault in causing the defect, but it is sufficient for the Claimant to prove a defect and a causal relationship between the defect and the injury suffered.

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Claims of Product Liability

Claims may only be brought under the CPA in relation to defective products in circulation after 1 March 1988. Any claims arising from defective products before this date would have to be brought by way of breach of contract claims or negligence claims. Consumer contracts are regulated by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, while business to business contracts would be regulated under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1972.

Section 2 of the CPA states that liability for a defective product rests with the manufacturer of the product, the importer of a product in the EU or someone who holds themselves out as the manufacturer of the product by way of trademark or labelling of the product. The supplier, either distributor, retailer or wholesaler, could potentially be liable in place of the manufacturer if they failed to identify the manufacturer, or at minimum failed to identify the person(s) who supplied the product.

In negligence claim liability would rest with any person or organisation in the supply chain found to be negligent.

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Contractual Liability

Contractual liability is more complex to establish, as it would depend on the contractual agreements between the manufacturer, distributor, customer and others and therefore liability could be passed down the supply chain. Exclusion clauses would also need to be looked at in any agreements.

In addition to the above, it is important to be aware that under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (‘GPSR’) manufacturers must ensure they only place safe products on the market and take steps to manage any identifiable risks, including recalling defective products, issuing warnings or withdrawing defective products from the market. A breach of the GPSR can lead to criminal sanctions being imposed as well as civil sanctions. The criminal sanctions could be a 12-month term of imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

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This is a complex area of law and if you require further advice please contact us at or call us.

Our product liability claims lawyers can advise businesses and individuals in a range of issues, including:

– Provide advice in claims of product liability
– Advise parties in the supply chain on contractual liability; including manufacturers, distributors and customers

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