What changes have already been made to Czech law on product
safety, product liability and sale of goods?
A new Act on General Product Safety was enacted in 2001. This Act
is the main source of product safety legislation in the Czech
Republic and it introduces the main principles set forth by the
first EU Directive on General Product Safety. The major provisions
- a definition of 'product' and 'producer'
- responsibility imposed on producers, importers and distributors
to ensure that goods introduced on to the market are
- an obligation on producers, importers and distributors to
provide relevant information to consumers
- a mechanism of supervision and control of compliance with the
- the possibility to impose fines in the case of a breach of the
- an outline of structures which will be used to identify
dangerous products at external borders.
The Act on General Product Safety, just like the
Directive, is general in its nature and does not contravene any
existing rules on the safety of products within specific
categories. Czech legislation has already introduced regulations
concerning the safety of the following types of products:
- clothes and shoes
- feedings and manures
- chemical substances
- ozone layer protection
- surgical devices; and
- personal protection tools.
In 2000, the Czech Act on Product Liability was
amended to make it compliant with the provisions of the EU
Directive 85/374/EEC on Product Liability. This directive has been
fully transposed with the exception of Article 7f) which stipulates
that the manufacturer of a component shall not be liable if he
proves that the defect is attributable to the design of the product
in which the component has been fitted or to the instructions given
by the manufacturer of the product. The Czech republic also decided
not to include any provision concerning financial cap on liability
as proposed by article 16 of the Directive.
The most notable provisions of the new act on
product liability are the following:
- a definition of 'manufacturer', 'product' and 'defective
- a general principle whereby manufacturers shall be liable in
the case of damage caused by a defective product
- the expiry of the entitlement to damages after ten years from
the day the defective product was introduced on the market
- a requirement for compensation for damage with a lower
threshold of CZK 5,000; and
- a provision whereby a manufacturer shall not be liable when the
state of technical knowledge at the time when he put the product
into circulation does not allow the existence of the defect to be
discovered ("development risks" defence).
Sale of goods
The Czech Civil code has been amended in order to
be fully compliant with EU legislation (Directive 1999/44/EC).
Relevant amendments have also been made to the Consumer Protection
The following major changes have been already made
in this field:
- more precise definitions in line with the definitions set by
the directive such as "conformity with the purchase contract"
- more detailed rules governing warranties (e.g. the minimum
warranty period was extended to 2 years, a written and explicit
warranty statement with a strictly defined content shall be
inserted in all contracts, special time limits for raising claims
under the warranty are set)
- new provisions regarding contracts relating to the purchase of
the right to use real estate property on a timeshare basis
("timeshare contracts") have been implemented.
What changes to Czech law on product safety
and product liability come into effect on accession?
To ensure a higher level of protection for
customers' health and safety at EU level, the general requirement
to market safe products was reinforced with the adoption of a new
EU Directive on General Product Safety on 3 December 2001.
For the Act on General Product Safety to fully
comply with EU law, an amendment has been adopted to extend the
range of products covered by the Act. These now include products
that are not primarily intended for sale to the consumer, but can
reasonably be expected to be used by consumers. An important issue
is, in particular, the definition of product safety criteria and
the sequence of its application. What is also important is a more
precise definition of the rules for product designation and the
introduction of an obligation to inform the consumer about the safe
handling of products in the event of potential risk. Last but not
least, the powers of the supervisory authority have been further
defined and extended. Supervisory authorities may now order a
manufacturer or distributor to accept an unsafe product back from a
consumer. They may also restrict a product launch, order a product
to be withdrawn or accepted back if they have proof that, despite
compliance with the applicable regulations, the product is not
The law already contains a provision according to
which, on the day of the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, the
manufacturer shall compensate damage to a product for which he is
liable with a lower threshold only in the amount of EUR 500,
translated by the exchange rate of the foreign exchange market, as
announced by the Czech national bank for the day on which the
damage arose or was ascertained. Consequently the reference to the
threshold of CZK 5,000 will disappear.
Sale of goods
Most of the provisions were already adopted and are
effective. There are 2 exceptions in relation to timesharing
contracts, which will come into effect on accession:
- the Czech Civil Code currently protects consumers where the
shared real estate is situated in the territory of the Czech
Republic. After accession, the same protection will be granted if
the real estate is situated within the territory of the EU
- the consumer's right to choose the language when the
timesharing contracts are concluded with a consumer from an EU
member state will become effective on accession.
What can you do to ensure you comply with
the new law and prepare for accession?
- check whether any products you sell are governed by specific
- review your standard agreements with customers to make sure
they are compliant with the law; and
- review the relationship with your customers and ensure they are