The Consumer Protection Act

Exciting(?) developments in product liability law! The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1987, the main compensation route for UK consumers, is now considered outdated. This is due to changes in product production and distribution. But change is on the horizon!

The proposed reforms to the European Product Liability Directive (PLD) 1985 aim to adapt and expand the strict liability laws. These changes are to include all software and technological advancements. They would make it easier for consumers to pursue product liability claims.

The proposed amendments include.

– Broadening the definition of “product” to include intangible digital items like software and manufacturing files, reflecting technological advancements.
– Redefining “damage” to include harm to psychological health, protecting vulnerable individuals targeted by AI systems.
– Introducing provisions on liability for defective products, such as considering aspects like cybersecurity.
– Increasing the pool of potential defendants, even if the manufacturer is outside the EU, holding importers, service providers, and distributors accountable.
– Easing the burden of proof by presuming defect and causation in certain cases where the Claimant faces technical or scientific complexity.
– Extending the longstop limitation period to allow claims up to 10 years from the date the defective product was placed on the market, with potential extensions for substantial modifications.

These changes aim to strike a fair balance between industry and consumer interests, ensuring greater protection for consumers harmed by defective products. They also call for increased transparency and harmonization of product liability rules across Member States.

While concerns have been raised about the impact on innovation, these reforms focus on correcting the imbalance in favor of defendants and enhancing access to justice for consumers. Striking the right balance between protecting consumers and promoting innovation has long been a key concept in UK product liability law.

Reform to the Consumer Protection Act may take time. However these changes signal a shift in the landscape of product liability, aligning the law with the digital age. Stay tuned for updates and let’s work together to create a fair and safe marketplace for all!

Ideas for law reform – Law Commission

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