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Product Liability Directive

from PART I

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2017

Duncan Fairgrieve
Affiliation:
Senior Fellow in Comparative Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London
Geraint Howells
Affiliation:
Dean and Chair Professor of Commercial Law, City University of Hong Kong
Peter Møgelvang-Hansen
Affiliation:
Professor of Commercial Law at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Gert Straetmans
Affiliation:
Full Professor of European Economic, Consumer and Commercial Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium
Dimitri Verhoeven
Affiliation:
Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium
Piotr MacHnikowski
Affiliation:
Professor of Civil Law and head of the Civil Law and Private International Law Department at the University of Wrocław, Poland
André Janssen
Affiliation:
Visiting Professor at the City University Hong Kong, China
Reiner Schulze
Affiliation:
Professor of German and European Civil Law, University of Münster, Germany
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Summary

INCEPTION OF THE PRODUCT LIABILITY DIRECTIVE

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

From a historical perspective, product liability was traditionally seen in many jurisdictions as merely a concrete illustration of the law of obligations to a specific factual matrix, involving the causing of damage by a product. It was only when the mass manufacture of consumer goods started to occur that sufficient impetus was generated towards the identification of an autonomous area of law. It was only then that practitioners and scholars commenced specialisation in the sphere of product liability. The US was of course at the vanguard of developments, and a word will thus be said of the evolution in the US, as a background to the European context. Professor David Owen records in his leading US treatise on the topic that the consequence of the spread of industrialisation in the 19th century was that by 1900, products ‘cases began to appear with some frequency’. There then followed iconic cases such as MacPherson v Buick Motor Co or Greenman v Yuba Power Products Inc, which ushered in the modern era of US products liability, accompanied by the various Restatements, with Owen noting that the strict liability rule enshrined in §402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts resulted in the ‘the doctrine of strict products liability in tort, together with a miscellany of secondary principles spread like wildfire around the nation’.

The development of product liability in Europe as a distinctive area of the law occurred much later than in the US. It was not until relatively late in the 20th century, after the occurrence of mass product disasters in Europe, and the realisation that traditional responses of the law were inadequate to deal with such situations, that there was a movement towards products liability as raising distinct legal issues, for which a tailor-made regime for compensation was potentially required. It should be noted that comparative law played a role in this process in certain European jurisdictions, with Gerhard Wagner describing for instance how in Germany ‘product liability was imported from the US, both with regard to the legal problem and its solution’.

Type
Chapter
Information
European Product Liability
An Analysis of the State of the Art in the Era of New Technologies
, pp. 17 - 108
Publisher: Intersentia
Print publication year: 2016

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  • Product Liability Directive
    • By Duncan Fairgrieve, Senior Fellow in Comparative Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London, Geraint Howells, Dean and Chair Professor of Commercial Law, City University of Hong Kong, Peter Møgelvang-Hansen, Professor of Commercial Law at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, Gert Straetmans, Full Professor of European Economic, Consumer and Commercial Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium, Dimitri Verhoeven, Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium, Piotr MacHnikowski, Professor of Civil Law and head of the Civil Law and Private International Law Department at the University of Wrocław, Poland, André Janssen, Visiting Professor at the City University Hong Kong, China, Reiner Schulze, Professor of German and European Civil Law, University of Münster, Germany
  • Edited by Piotr Machnikowski
  • Book: European Product Liability
  • Online publication: 15 December 2017
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781780685243.002
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  • Product Liability Directive
    • By Duncan Fairgrieve, Senior Fellow in Comparative Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London, Geraint Howells, Dean and Chair Professor of Commercial Law, City University of Hong Kong, Peter Møgelvang-Hansen, Professor of Commercial Law at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, Gert Straetmans, Full Professor of European Economic, Consumer and Commercial Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium, Dimitri Verhoeven, Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium, Piotr MacHnikowski, Professor of Civil Law and head of the Civil Law and Private International Law Department at the University of Wrocław, Poland, André Janssen, Visiting Professor at the City University Hong Kong, China, Reiner Schulze, Professor of German and European Civil Law, University of Münster, Germany
  • Edited by Piotr Machnikowski
  • Book: European Product Liability
  • Online publication: 15 December 2017
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781780685243.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Product Liability Directive
    • By Duncan Fairgrieve, Senior Fellow in Comparative Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London, Geraint Howells, Dean and Chair Professor of Commercial Law, City University of Hong Kong, Peter Møgelvang-Hansen, Professor of Commercial Law at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, Gert Straetmans, Full Professor of European Economic, Consumer and Commercial Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium, Dimitri Verhoeven, Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium, Piotr MacHnikowski, Professor of Civil Law and head of the Civil Law and Private International Law Department at the University of Wrocław, Poland, André Janssen, Visiting Professor at the City University Hong Kong, China, Reiner Schulze, Professor of German and European Civil Law, University of Münster, Germany
  • Edited by Piotr Machnikowski
  • Book: European Product Liability
  • Online publication: 15 December 2017
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781780685243.002
Available formats
×