The CPA introduced statutory liability for defective products. Liability under the CPA exists alongside liability in negligence, and in some cases a common law claim may succeed where a claim would not be available under the CPA.
The CPA applies to both products used by consumers and products used in a place of work. The CPA imposes strict liability on manufacturers of defective products for harm caused by those products. This means that people who are injured by defective products can sue for compensation without having to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. It is merely necessary to prove that the product was defective, and that any injury or damage was most likely caused by the product.
The CPA applies to all consumer products and products used at a place of work. The inclusion of ‘products used at a place of work’ extends the scope of the law to include sales of products between businesses rather than just sales to consumers if such products are used in a place of work.
A claim may be brought under the CPA by any person who is injured by a ‘defective product’, regardless of whether that person purchased the product. A claim may be brought for death, personal injury or damage to private property in excess of £275. However, no claim may be brought for damage to business property or for ‘pure’ economic losses. In particular, the CPA provides that a
claim cannot be made for the loss of or damage to the defective product itself. Other than these restrictions, the CPA imposes no financial limit on the producer’s total liability.
Who is liable?
Under the CPA, the ‘producer’ of a product is liable for any defects. The producer is the manufacturer of the finished product or of a component of the finished product, or any person responsible for an industrial or other process to which any essential characteristic of the product is attributable. Liability may also be imposed on any party who holds itself out to be the producer through the use of a name or trade mark, and any person who imported the product into the European Community. As such, there may be more than one party liable under the CPA in respect of the same damage. Liability is joint and several, so the injured party may sue any or all of these people. Liability cannot be excluded or limited