If you are a manufacturer, you are liable for any damage caused by faults in your products. This is known as product liability. Products should be safe and usable before they are allowed onto the European market. They should not endanger consumers' health and safety.
Faults in a product
A fault in a product is for instance:
- the lack of a safety provision
- unsound instructions for use
- the lack of warnings on the product
When are you not liable?
The producer is not liable in cases such as:
- The product was safe when first launched on the market but was no longer so at a later date (e.g., due to deterioration).
- The product was not originally intended for commercial purposes.
- You could not possibly have known that the product was unsafe.
Product liability ends 10 years after the product first came out. It does not apply to buildings and services.
Product liability on imported products
If you import products from outside the EU, you are legally considered the producer. Product liability only applies to importers, not to agents.
Has someone been harmed by an unsafe product? They can claim damages for up to 3 years after the incident. They have to prove:
- there has been harm
- there is a fault in the product
- the harm has occurred as a direct result of this fault
Who pays the compensation?
Who should pay compensation depends on the extent of the damage:
- damages of up to €500 are paid by the seller
- damages of €500 and over are paid by the producer or importer