Product safety... are you complying with the law and are you protected?

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Commercial Article

21 June, 2022

If you make, import, distribute or sell consumer products in the UK, you are responsible for making sure that they are safe for consumers to use and to follow any legal requirements required in relation to ensuring the product is safe. If you do not comply with these legal obligations and products are found to be unsafe or cause harm to consumers, you could face legal action.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, certain standards apply to every transaction for the sale and supply of goods. The goods manufactured must be:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for a particular purpose;
  • match the description, sample or model; and
  • be installed correctly.

Manufacturers and importers placing products on the UK market need to demonstrate that they comply with the relevant safety requirements. This involves:

  • minimising the risks associated with the products;
  • generating and keeping records of associated technical documentation;
  • placing appropriate labelling on the product; and
  • providing instructions on how to use it safely.

A 'safe' product is one which, under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, does not present any risk or only the minimum risks compatible with the product's use and which are considered to be acceptable and consist with a high level of protection for the safety and health of persons. 'Conditions of use' in this context also covers duration of use, putting into service, installation and maintenance.

Aside from ensuring manufacturers are complying with the law for product safety, it is also vitally important that manufacturers protect themselves when it comes to unsafe usage of the products by consumers and/or retailers, provided the manufacturers have already complied with the above safety requirements. This also applies for businesses who simply supply products created by manufacturers. Claims may be pursued by consumers and/or businesses for unsafe products supplied and can be made against anyone in the supply chain i.e., manufacturers, importers and/or retailers. Managing financial risk and liabilities can be achieved via contractual arrangements at different levels of the supply chain.

Why detailed terms and conditions or having agreements in place are vitally important…

A manufacturer is obliged to provide consumers with the relevant information allowing them to assess and take precautions against the risks inherent in a product where such risks are not immediately obvious with adequate warnings. If manufacturers comply with the required product safety requirements but are still in receipt of claims from either businesses or consumers, having in place relevant agreements with suppliers or detailed terms and conditions for consumers in place will allow manufacturers to have some form of protection where consumers or suppliers have not used the products safely and recover liabilities more easily from those at fault.

These terms and conditions or agreements will not only ensure your legal responsibilities are upheld and top you fall foul of the law, but they will also be terms that manufacturers can refer to should they be faced with claims where they have provided safe products. Manufacturers must ensure these documents are drafted correctly to ensure compliance and to also protect your liability should any potential issues arise with consumers and/or businesses.

Our solicitors are experts in drafting terms and conditions amongst various other contracts and are specialists at providing advice on the same. For more information, please contact John Pickervance, Head of Commercial and member of our specialist Construction team on via email or phone on 0333 207 1134. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our Online Contact Form.

For more information contact John Pickervance in our Commercial department via email or phone on 0333 207 1134. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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