Liability of defective products

Liability of defective products

If a product bought in the EU is damaged or doesn't work, EU citizens can ask for compensation. Since 1985, the EU Internal Market counts on product liability legislation that aims to maintain a fair balance of risks between the interests of consumers and market policies. The protection of the free movement of goods and the elimination of competition distortions are especially important.

EU legislation on liability for defective products:

Since 1985, if a defective product causes any damage to consumers or their property, the producer has to compensate it independently of whether there is or is not negligence or fault on his/her part:

Which products fall under the legislation?

This legislation applies to any product marketed in the European Economic Area. Compensation for material damage shall be limited to goods for private use or consumption with a lower treshold of 500 euro. It sets out a time limit for three years  for the recovery of damages and forbids clauses limiting or excluding the liability of the producer.

Rights of producers

A producer could be cleared of liability if he proves certain things such as:

  • not having put the product into circulation;
  • the defect being due to the compliance of the product with mandatory regulations issued by public authorities;
  • the state of scientific or technical knowledge at the time when the product was put into circulation could not detect the defect.

Commission’s actions

The European Commission follows developments in case-law by the Court of Justice of the European Union, analyses the information and complaints received, and  reports to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament every five years.