Civil remedies the Consumer Protection

All of the legislation outlined so far is criminal legislation, that is to say it protects society in general. In addition to criminal law, civil provisions protect the individual by providing a financial remedy in the form of damages where death, injury, loss or damage has resulted from a faulty product. Although such a remedy has existed for many years, it required the plaintiff to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in the production of the food. Negligence has always been difficult for the ordinary citizen to establish without the powers to inspect the production facility or to see production records, assuming that they even existed. This inequality was recognised by the European Commission in the mid-1980s when the Product Liability Directive was established. Enacted in the UK by the Consumer Protection Act 1987, this piece of legislation provided a great step forward by eliminating the need to prove negligence. The prerequisites for a successful action were to be able to prove that the damage was caused by a defect in the goods. The definition of damage includes death or injury, thus bringing unsafe food within its remit. One of the first actions within the UK was brought by a person who had suffered botulism as a result of eating a hazelnut yogurt which had been prepared with contaminated hazelnut puree. The legislation also removes the need for there to be a direct contractual relationship between the two parties involved. Previously, the buyer would have had to take action against the seller, but now the person who suffered harm can take action directly against the manufacturer, despite there being no contractual link between them.

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