Product safety and liability

Members of chambers have acted in civil and criminal cases which concern contractual and regulatory problems regarding products. Chambers undertakes advisory work on liability issues arising both in the supply chain and at the point of placement on the market. Chambers advises on the applicable law in areas such as toys, electrical and gas appliances, medical devices, cosmetics and tobacco, as well as the application of the general law to “products”. Chambers has a particular specialism in food products and was a founding member of the Food Law Group in 1990. Members of chambers are experienced in advising on product recalls and other regulatory interventions.

 

Members have been involved in a variety of cases, including:

  • R (Milton Keynes) v Mama & Papas (2019): Prosecution of retail chain Mamas and Papas follow 3 year trading standards investigation, which was fined £20,000 for selling child car seats that could cause head injuries;
  • R (Cheshire East Council) v Hough Mills: Prosecution of a company and director for placing unsafe motorcycle helmets on the market. One of very few uses of the procedure before the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators contained within Reg 15(4)(c) of the GPSR 2005;
  • LB Ealing v TRS Cash and Carry Ltd (Isleworth Crown Court, September 2017): successful defence of a food retailer facing an allegation of placing spices on the market containing salmonella.
  • Lincolnshire CC v  McKenzie (Lincoln Crown Court, 2015): successful prosecution of the proprietor of a tyre sales outlet for selling dangerous tyres in breach of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005;
  • Cheshire East v Salsa Enterprises Limited and Sean Ellman (2013): defence of company accused of breaching CPUT by selling ‘legal highs’;
  • Lincolnshire CC v Atiqi t/a Boston Food and Wine Centre (2013): prosecution for sale of illicit cigarettes which failed to have ‘speed bumps’ to make them self-extinguishing;
  • Isle of Anglesey County Council v Aurora Limited (2012): successful appeal by toy producer against conviction under Toy Safety Regulations 1995;
  • Waltham Forest LBC v Unik Communications (2010): prosecution for faulty mobile telephone chargers;
  • Windsor and Maidenhead RBC v Best Price 2U Ltd (2010): illegal plug converters;
  • Westminster CC v Zoostation Ltd (2009): defence of retailer supplying allegedly dangerous novelty items;
  • Warwickshire CC v Aldi Stores Ltd (2008): sale of allegedly unsafe imported fireworks;
  • In the Pink v N.E. Lincolnshire Council [2005] EWHC 1111 (Admin): leading case on definition of ‘toy’; depends on manufacturer’s intention, but point of sale evidence admissible;
  • Birmingham CC v Wyeth (2003): unlawful advertising of baby milk products;
  • R v DTI, ex p. (1) Alba>Radio Ltd (2) PIFCO Ltd (2000): toaster produced to harmonised standard; local/national notification process; free movement of goods;
  • Members of chambers were also involved in a multi-party pharmaceutical product liability action in the High Court, in respect of an anti-epilepsy drug which was alleged to have caused visual field constriction as a side-effect (case settled)
  • Expert evidence has also been supplied for use before a foreign court in a case involving the safety of items which could be mistaken for food.

Claire Andrews and Professor Geraint Howells are active members of the Product Liability Forum.