Austrian Court rules that product suppliers must identify producers promptly

United Kingdom
Austrian Court rules that product suppliers must identify producers promptly if they are to avoid product liability claims

The Austrian Supreme Court has decided that a supplier of a defective product must identify the producer, or the person who supplied him with the product, voluntarily and quickly if he is to escape liability under national legislation implementing the Product Liability Directive. It also decided that late notification could be given but would only get the supplier off the hook if he could prove that his delay had not led to any disadvantage to the injured person.

Laws of some other member states (especially Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and the UK) differ from the Directive (and Austrian law) in providing that the supplier’s liability does not arise unless the consumer makes a pre-action request to the supplier for him to identify the producer or a previous supplier. Accordingly, the logical consequence of this is that a supplier would only have to identify the producer/his supplier if the claimant happens to make a specific request to do so, and not otherwise. There are therefore confusing differences between national laws and general uncertainty on whether a request has to be made or not, and on how much time the supplier has to respond or make a voluntarily notification. We will be publishing a detailed analysis of the Court decision and position under EU laws in due course.

For further information please contact Chris Hodges by telephone on +44(0)20 7367 2738 or by e-mail at christopher.hodges@cms-cmck.com