Consumer Protection Act 1987

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 gives you the right to claim compensation if a defective product causes death, damage or injury.

Consumer Protection Act 1987

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 gives you the right to claim compensation against the producer of a defective product if it has caused damage, death or personal injury.

The act also contains a strict liability test for defective products in UK Law making the producer of that product automatically liable for any damage caused. 

What does strict liability mean?

Strict liability under the Consumer Protection Act means where a product is defective, then in most cases, the producer of that product is automatically liable for any harm caused by the defect.

What damage can I claim for?

According to Section 2(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, damage is established when there has been ‘any damage’.

In practice, this means that anyone who suffers damage as a result of the defect is entitled to claim and not just whoever bought the product.

Reasons not to claim

While you can claim for most property damage or personal injury, there are certain types of damage explicitly excluded in the Consumer Protection Act. 

  • Loss or damage to the product itself
  • Damage to business products not ordinarily intended for private use
  • Damage to property with a value below £275

 

Although the Consumer Protection Act contains a strict liability test, companies may defend against your claim if they can prove any of the following:

  • The producer didn’t sell or supply the product. For example, if the only version of that product had been stolen and had never been intended for public sale.
  • The product wasn’t defective when the producer supplied it
  • At the time of production the level of scientific and technical knowledge wasn't advanced enough to have known about the defect in the product
  • The defect is present because of a need to comply with legal requirements.

 

You can't bring a claim under the Consumer Protection Act more than three years from the date you became aware of the damage. And no claim can be brought more than 10 years after the date the product was last put into circulation.

Who is the producer?

Under the Consumer Protection Act you need to bring your claim against the ‘producer of the product’.

The producer of the product is considered to mean:

  • Any person or company who, by putting their name on the product or using a trade mark or other distinguishing mark, has held themselves up to be the producer of the product
  • Any person or company who has imported the product into the European Union (EU) from a place outside the EU in order to sell it on

As such there can be several different defendants you can claim against and it's up to you whether you make a claim against one individually or pursue a claim against all of them. 

But you'll only be entitled to a single compensation award from a single defendant - not from all of them. 

Making a claim

Own brands are a good example to illustrate the different parties you can claim against. 

These products will often carry a mark of a brand as well as indicating that they were specifically produced for the supermarket in question.

According to the Consumer Protection Act, you are entitled to make a claim for damages against both the supermarket and producer. 

And if the product was made outside the EU, you can also claim against the company that originally imported it into the EU. 

What products can I claim for?

A product for the proposes of the Consumer Protection Act can be almost anything that can be packaged and sold. 

Buildings and land are not included but construction materials like bricks, girders and paving slabs are. 

Information and computer software also isn't included although printed instructions and embedded software can be considered in relation to the overall safety of a product.

Any food sold in its raw state also falls within the definition of a product and is covered by the Consumer Protection Act in England and Wales.

What defects can I claim for?

Under Section 3(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, a product is defective if the safety of the product is not as you'd generally expect.

When determining what you should generally be entitled to expect, the following factors are taken into consideration:

  • How has the product has been marketed? Things like the packaging, the use of a mark, any warnings on the product and instructions will be taken into account.
  • Were there warning labels or instructions provided with the product?
  • How would the product reasonably be expected to be used?
  • Would you have reasonably expected the safety of the product to have deteriorated after a period of time?

How much damage?

Under Section 2(1) of the Consumer Protection Act the damage must have been caused wholly or partly by the defect.

This means the defect doesn't need to be the sole cause of any damage but it must have contributed to it. 

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