If you sustain an injury owing to the purchase of a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. In such circumstances you can claim compensation against the manufacturer or the supplier as well as individuals or companies in the supply chain, such as wholesalers, stores, retail outlets.

If you suffer loss or damage because of defects in a manufacturer’s goods you can either:

Take the manufacturer to Court. The Court can award compensation to cover these losses; or

Make a complaint to a consumer protection agency, which may take action on your behalf.

Loss or damage can include:

Injuries to the person making the claim or to another individual; and

Economic loss caused by damage to or destruction of another good, land, a building or a fixture.

Court’s Role In Assessment

While assessing the amount of loss caused to or suffered by you, the Court will consider the safety of the goods by taking into account the following:

Marketing of the goods;

Packaging of the goods;

The warnings and instructions for use; and

What may reasonably be expected to be done with the goods.

Defences Available To A Manufacturer Or A Supplier Against Product Liability Claims

A manufacturer or a supplier can take the following defences against your product liability claim if:

The defect was caused due to compliance with a mandatory standard; or

The defect did not exist at the time of the supply of the goods by the manufacturer; or

The state of scientific or technical knowledge at the time the goods were supplied did not enable the safety defect to be discovered; or

There has been a contributory negligence at your end.

Role Of Manufacturers, Suppliers And Retailers In Reducing Risk Of Liability Claims

Manufacturers, suppliers and retailers can adopt responsible business practices in order to minimise the risk of product liability claims. Such practices may include conducting regular review of product designs, production, quality assurance and marketing procedures, testing and ascertaining the products as per the relevant standard, providing clear and thorough user instructions, conducting a quick voluntary recall of any defective or unsafe product, when necessary.

Legislation Regulating Product Liability

Product liability laws specify the circumstances in which people suffering from product related loss or injury are entitled to receive compensation from the manufacturers, sellers or suppliers of a product. The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) which came into effect on 01 January 2011 aims at protecting consumers and ensuring fair trading. Provisions on product liability have been dealt in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA). The CCA replaced the Trade Practices Act, 1974 on 01 January 2011. As per the provisions of the CCA, you can seek compensation or damages for personal injury or other loss caused by defective products supplied by a manufacturer.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the consumer protection agency or agencies of each state and/or territory are the main regulators of ACL. The ACL in the CCA sets out a number of provisions relating to product liability to be followed in prescribed circumstances:

Declare safety standards for consumer goods, such standards to be prepared or approved by Standards Australia Limited;

Introduce interim or permanent ban on consumer goods or services which will or may cause injury;

Issue a recall notice for consumer goods if those goods will or may cause injury;

Publish a written safety warning notice in relation to any consumer good which are under investigation to determine whether or not those goods will or may cause injury; and

Introduce a minimum standard of information relating to specified goods or services.

The ACL has introduced statutory consumer guarantees for supply of goods and services including:

Suppliers have the right to sell the goods;

Purchasers to receive undisturbed possession;

The goods are of acceptable quality and free from undisclosed securities;

The manufacturer guarantees the reasonable availability of repairs and spare parts;

Services to be supplied with due care and skill;

Services to be fit for any disclosed purpose; and

Services to be rendered within a reasonable time in absence of anytime specific provision.

For any dispute pertaining to product liability claims, feel free to contact our experts at Owen Hodge Lawyers.

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