Consultation Session: Defective Products Liability

15 March 2017

Director Information, Education and Research at the Office for Consumer Affairs within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) Ms Odette Vella, who was accompanied by Ms Joyce Borg, Director General at MCCAA, gave a presentation on current legislation tied to producers’ liability for damages caused by defective products. The aim of the consultation session, which was held to coincide with World Consumer Rights’ Day being marked today, is to get feedback from stakeholders on the application and performance of the Directive on liability for defective products. The session was organised by MEUSAC in conjunction with MCCAA.

The questions the Commission is asking are: · whether and to what extent the Directive meets its objectives of guaranteeing at EU level the liability without fault of the producer for damage caused by a defective product · whether it still corresponds to stakeholders’ needs · if the Directive is fit-for-purpose vis-à-vis new technological developments such as the Internet of Things and autonomous systems

Ms Borg said that both the MCCAA and the Office of Consumer Affairs promote, through other channels as well, the eight basic rights of consumers, from the right to information to the right to receive redress.

During her in-depth explanation, Ms Vella explained that a product is deemed defective when the product is not manufactured according to safety guidelines. She said, however, that a product is not considered defective only because a better product is subsequently put into circulation.

She said that in the event a product does not have the details of the producer on it, consumers can turn to the person who sold the product to them but this does not mean he or she is automatically responsible for the damage/s incurred by the consumer. But she did emphasise that the seller has responsibilities also in such cases.

Ms Vella further explained that when a claim is made to the seller, the consumer must provide proof of purchase. The seller has a 30-day window to reply to the consumer and if the seller fails to do so, the seller would be automatically assuming responsibility. When the product has the information of the producer, then the consumer can address the claim to the producer directly.

The consumer can also seek damages from the importer of a product if it is manufactured outside an EU Member State. She said no waivers are permitted which would remove a producer’s responsibility. Also, if 10 years elapse, the producer cannot be sued for any damages whatsoever.

To participate in the online consultation session click here.

The deadline for feedback is April 26.

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