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Updated 12/2014

Updated 12/2014

Defective products


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Defective products - your responsibility

You are liable for a defect in your products. If they cause harm to your customers (death, personal injury, material damage to personal belongings, etc.), you could end up in serious trouble.

Take care when you:

  • manufacture a final product
  • manufacture parts to be incorporated into another product
  • import a product into the EU for further sale.

If more than one business is responsible for the safety of the same product, the injured party can take any of them to court.

Liability rules also apply to electricity and agricultural products. Your sales contract may not contain terms that reduce your responsibility for a defective product.

How to seek redress as an injured party

To claim compensation for damage suffered, the injured party must prove that:

  • damage took place
  • your product was defective
  • the defect and the damage were linked.

Cases when you are not liable

You bear no liability if you can prove that:

  • you did not place the product on the market
  • you did not manufacture the product for sale
  • the defect causing the damage did not exist when the product was placed on the market
  • the defect arose only because your product had to fulfil mandatory technical requirements
  • according to the latest scientific and technical standards, no one could have foreseen the defect when you placed the product on the market
  • you manufactured only one component, and the defect was the result of the design of the final product.

The injured party has 3 years to claim compensation, starting on the day they became aware of the damage.

You are no longer responsible for damage caused by your product once it has been on the market for 10 years, unless someone has claimed compensation from you during that period.

Search for unsafe products: RAPEX

EU national authorities can act (by recalling products or banning trade) to deal with products that pose a serious risk to the health or safety of consumers. Manufacturers can also recall their products. In all cases, any action taken is recorded in the RAPEX database. RAPEX does not track measures taken against agricultural products nor against pharmaceutical and medical devices.

Help & advice

Help & advice

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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