Product safety law

Product liability and taking out insurance

Guide

It's a criminal offence for manufacturers to supply unsafe products. They may also be liable under civil law for any harm such products cause - which could result in costly legal proceedings.

The Consumer Protection (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 makes manufacturers strictly liable for death, injury, loss or damage caused by defective (unsafe) products.

If a finished product contains a defect in a particular component, both the product manufacturer and component manufacturer may be liable.

Other suppliers, such as wholesalers and retailers, are not liable unless they fail to identify the producer when asked to do so by a person who has suffered harm.

But customers can sue retailers under laws on the sale of goods.

You should take positive action to monitor the safety of your products. You should also make sure you are covered by product liability insurance if you manufacture or repair products, and possibly if you sell them, too.

Insurance will provide valuable protection for your business against any costs or compensation awarded. Although it's not a legal requirement to have this type of insurance, it could mean the survival of your business should a claim be made against you.