Following on from Wilkes v DePuy International Ltd [2016] EWHC 3096 (QB), the High Court has confirmed the approach to be taken when determining whether a product is defective under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (“the Act”).

In Gee & Others v DePuy International Limited [2018] EWHC 1208 (QB) (“the Pinnacle Metal Hip Litigation”), Mrs Justice Andrews OBE found that the Defendant’s product was not defective under the Act.  The correct test to be applied was whether the product had an abnormal tendency to result in damage or harm, as compared with appropriate comparator products.

The judgment signals a continuing departure from the approach taken by Mr Justice Burton in A v National Blood Authority [2001] 3 All E.R. 289. Most significantly, it confirms that factors such as avoidability of the defect, cost of precautionary measures and the benefit of the product more generally are factors to be taken into account when assessing whether products meet an objective safety standard.

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Fipronil egg scare: implications for corporates

On 7 August 2017 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) announced that 21,000 eggs imported into the UK from farms in Belgium and the Netherlands were contaminated with the pesticide Fipronil.  The number of contaminated eggs imported into the UK is now estimated at 700,000 and around 70 different products containing eggs potentially contaminated with Fipronil have been recalled. Investigations into the incident in Europe are continuing.

The cost of the recalls has yet to be quantified but the losses (which will include the cost of the product recalls, business interruption losses, damage to reputation, and the settlement of any third party compensation claims) may be significant. Some parties will be looking to recoup their losses from other parties down the supply chain and, where relevant, their insurers.

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High Court provides guidance on the interpretation of “defect” under the Consumer Protection Act 1987

In a landmark judgment on the meaning of "defect" under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 ("the Act"), Mr Justice Hickinbottom in the High Court case of Wilkes v DePuy adopted an objective test for safety by reference to what the public at large are entitled to expect of the product and departed in a number of respects from the approach taken by Mr Justice Burton in A v National Blood Authority ("A v NBA"), over 15 years ago.

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Court of Appeal considers meaning of notification wording

The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision of the Commercial Court that found an insurer could not rely on a notification condition precedent to avoid liability under a public and product liability policy.  The judgment in Zurich Insurance PLC v Maccaferri Limited [2016] EWCA Civ 1302 confirms the helpful guidance provided by the Commercial Court on the construction of phrases commonly seen in notification provisions in liability policies.

Read our full bulletin on this case here

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End-user of defective product prevented from bringing a claim when it has knowledge of the defects

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that where an end user has knowledge of the defects in a product, it is not able to bring a claim for any subsequent loss resulting from that defect. It held that an end user company would be deemed to have knowledge even where its senior managers were not aware. It is sufficient that employees entrusted with the task of maintaining and operating the defective equipment in a safe manner had such knowledge: Howmet Limited v Economy Devices Limited & Ors [2016] EWCA Civ 847.

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Emerging Legal Issues in 3D Printing and Product Liability: The View from the U.S. and the UK

In this article, published in Law Journal Newsletters, we consider who will be held liable if objects created through the use of 3D printing technology, and distributed to consumers and other users, turn out to be defective and unreasonably dangerous from the perspective of United States law as well as the regulatory environment in the United Kingdom.

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Our new guide to product liability and product recall insurance in the UK

In this guide, published as a chapter of the International Comparative Legal Guide to Product Liability 2016, we consider the types of liability to which producers and distributors of defective products may be exposed, and the scope of product liability and recall insurance policies. It also outlines practical considerations for insureds in product recall planning and compliance with the requirements of their insurance.

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Focus on 3D printing – the legal implications of an emerging technology

In this article published in PLC Magazine June 2016 we consider the effectiveness of the current law to deal with the competition that 3D printing presents for traditional manufacturing as well as the opportunities 3D printing provides for rights holders via alternative business models and the product liability challenges involved. Andrew Moir, Anthony Dempster, Rachel Montagnon, David Bennett and Richard Woods discuss the intellectual property and product liability issues involved. 

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