product liability
liability in tort or delict in respect of produce. Essentially an application of the law of tort although the term can be used to cover liability under sale and supply of goods. Although there is now a Europe-wide regime of strict liability, the foundation of this head of liability in tort or delict was rooted in the case of Donoghue v . Stevenson 1932 SC (HL) 31, now important for its principled approach to negligence generally. However, the narrow ratio of that case was the issue at the time the case was decided and explained its early importance, extending as it did the liability of manufacturers. The narrow ratio is apparent from Lord Atkin's dictum: 'a manufacturer of products, which he sells in such a form as to show that he intends them to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him with no reasonable possibility of intermediate examination, and with the knowledge that the absence of reasonable care in the preparation or putting up of the products will result in an injury to the consumer's life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care.' The maxim res ipsa loquitur made it much easier for pursuers to recover compensation, but a combination of consumer pressure in the late 20th century and the need for harmonisation of laws in the European Union has resulted in a Europe-wide regime of strict liability that focuses upon defects in products, the liability being primarily upon producers of products. In the UK, the directive was implemented by the Consumer Protection Act 1987. The defences limit the general rule considerably. It is crucial to know the defences as they affect the scope of liability significantly. They are:
(1) compliance with any requirement imposed by or under any enactment or with any community obligation;
(2) the defender did not supply;
(3) non-commercial supply does not attract liability, but this does not include a commercial supplier who gives his product away as a trial;
(4) it is a defence if the state of scientific and technical knowledge at the relevant time was not such that a producer of products of the same description as the product in question might be expected to have discovered the defect if it had existed in his products while they were under his control. This is often known as the development risks' defence. The European Union is currently reviewing this defence as part of an overall review;
(5) the component manufacturer is allowed to show that the defect was a defect in a product in which the defender's product is comprised. This is a defence only if the defect is wholly attributable to the design of the subsequent product or to compliance by the defender with instructions given by the final producer; (6) contributory negligence is recognised.

Collins dictionary of law. . 2001.


product liability
The responsibility of manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of products to the public, to deliver products free of defects that harm someone and to make good on that responsibility if the products are defective. Defective products might include faulty auto brakes, contaminated baby food, exploding bottles of beer, flammable children's pajamas, or products that lack proper label warnings. A key feature of product liability law is that a person who suffers harm need not prove negligence, because the negligence is presumed and the result is strict liability (absolute responsibility) on the seller, distributor, and manufacturer.
Category: Accidents & Injuries
Category: If, When & Where to File a Lawsuit
Category: Mediation, Arbitration & Collaborative Law
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.


product liability
n. The legal obligation of a manufacturer to pay financial compensation for any harm caused by a product brought to market to a consumer who had the right to expect that the product was safe to use as bought; a similar obligation of one who sells such a product.

Webster's New World Law Dictionary. . 2000.


product liability
The responsibility of a manufacturer or vendor of goods to compensate for injury caused by defective merchandise that it has provided for sale.

Dictionary from West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005.


product liability
I
The responsibility of a manufacturer or vendor of goods to compensate for injury caused by defective merchandise that it has provided for sale.
II Legal responsibility of manufacturers and sellers to buyers, users, and bystanders for damages or injuries suffered because of defects in goods.

Short Dictionary of (mostly American) Legal Terms and Abbreviations.

product liability
n.
   the responsibility of manufacturers, distributors and sellers of products to the public, to deliver products free of defects which harm an individual or numerous persons and to make good on that responsibility if their products are defective. These can include faulty auto brakes, contaminated baby food, exploding bottles of beer, flammable children's pajamas or lack of label warnings. Examples: Beauty Queen Hair Products makes a hair-permanent kit in which the formula will cause loss of hair to women with sensitive scalps, and Molly Makeup has her hair done at the Bon Ton Beauty Shop and suffers scalp burns and loss of hair. Molly has a claim for damages against Beauty Queen, the manufacturer. Big Boy Trucks makes a truck with a faulty steering gear, bought by Tom Holdtight. The gear fails and Holdtight runs off the road and breaks his back. Holdtight can sue Big Boy for the damages. The key element in product liability law is that a person who suffers harm need prove only the failure of the product to make the seller, distributor and/or manufacturer reliable for damages. An injured person usually need only sue the seller and let him/her/it bring the manufacturer or distributor into the lawsuit or require contribution toward a judgment. However, all those possibly responsible should be named in the suit as defendants if they are known.
   See also: warrant, warranty

Law dictionary. . 2013.

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