Product liability law covers a broad field of numerous and varying issues and problems. In many cases it is product liability law which is mainly to be applied. Other than that tortious product liability, contractual product liability and product liability which is covered by special laws are specific fields to which attention must be given. As far as tortious product liability is concerned the issues which are mostly at stake are problems which arise in a context with faults in design or construction, production defects and/or faulty instructions which are the objects of numerous disputes. The basic concept of product liability is the manufacturer’s obligation to ensure that its product will not cause damage to any third party or third party property. In so far an aspect to which particular attention is to be paid is the compliance with insurance obligations. In connection with tortious product liability we are faced with other questions such as the burden of proof when it comes to the issue of product liability. In addition aspects such as the exclusion of product liability, extended product liability or international product liability must also be considered and taken into account. In this context parties are also often faced with questions of product liability which come up in their business relationships which are established in connection with transactions in Germany, the EU or increasingly also in non-European countries such as China.
In this context significant issues are questions concerning a company’s liability for claims for damages which are to be asserted for the supply and delivery of a faulty or defective purchase item and for damage which is thereby caused to other legally protected objects and interests. Questions pertaining to the fields of warranty, recalls, compensation for pain and suffering or also the limitation of actions under the statute of limitations equally play an important part and must be dealt with in connection with numerous fields of business such as, for instance, in the field of product liability for foodstuffs, medical products and also insurances.
Contractual product liability covers the field where claims may be asserted and enforced by manufacturer’s and dealer’s contracting partners – but in so far by these only – provided that pertinent conditions and requirements are met.
Another field is the manufacturer’s no-fault or absolute liability under the Product Liability Act, according to which a manufacturer will be held liable not only for faulty products, but also for faulty product monitoring. Such faulty product monitoring is to be assumed if the product manufacturer’s monitoring duty was not or only insufficiently fulfilled. In so far it is the general principles of obligatory insurance which will be applicable.
Special product liability criteria are, amongst others, to be applied in the fields of gene product liability, pharmaceutical products liability or medical products liability under the German Medical Devices Act. This law stipulates that operators of a genetic engineering facility are liable for damages which are caused either by the facility or facility equipment or as a consequence of gene-engineering work. As far as the field of pharmaceutical products liability is concerned it is necessary to also consider the aspects of liability for substances and preparations which are destined for the purposes of healing, relieving, preventing or diagnosing diseases, illnesses, damage, injury or infirmities and complaints by such substances and preparations which are used and administered in human or animal bodies.
Here are a few pictures with a short description of the technical problems.
The civil disputes in connection with these problems have been handled in our office and are mean while closed.