Many people will be aware of the problems that a major motor manufacturer has had recently regarding emissions levels and a mass product recall and customer service operation is under way as a result.
Whilst this is an example of a defective product and the manufacturer is taking steps to remedy the problem, the issue becomes far more serious when you suffer an injury caused by a recalled product.
No margin for error
There is doubt that mass product recalls and especially when health and safety fears are at stake, are a major embarrassment to the manufacturer and generates a lot of negative PR.
Any manufacturer who sells their goods in the UK has a duty of care to ensure that their product is safe and if their product turns out to be in breach of product safety laws, there are serious consequences that go beyond negative publicity.
One of the complications for consumers in the UK is that there is one particular body or institution that has sole responsibility for ensuring safety standards are met.
Issues with food contamination and public health would be covered by the Food Standards Agency whereas a faulty electrical product could come to the attention of Trading Standards.
Product recall problems
According to Electrical Safety First, the typical success rate of a product recall is no better than 20%.
This creates a potentially hazardous or even fatal risk where consumers are continuing to use items which have been recalled and could cause a serious fire or injury and death to the user, who may well be unaware that the item they are continuing to use, could cause them harm.
Everyday electrical items like hairdryers, straighteners and small kitchen appliances such as kettles and toasters are regularly being recalled by manufacturers, but unless you check a site like the Chartered Trading Standards Institute for regular updates, you may well not find out about a serious problem until it’s too late.
Sale of Goods Act
The UK has a long established legal framework that puts certain obligations on manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe.
The Sale of Goods Act is used to create an implied contract where you the consumer buys a product from a manufacturer on the understanding that it is safe and fit for purpose.
If a product is subsequently recalled by the manufacturer, this suggests that a manufacturer has failed to meet these obligations and you may be entitled to make a contractual claim. EU law provisions are very similar in this respect and you may be entitled to make a claim that goes beyond the base value that you paid for the product in question.
If you have been injured or suffered in some way from a product that has been recalled, it would be advisable to speak to a specialist solicitor who can advise you about the possibility of making a claim.
The UK law protects your rights as a consumer and when something goes badly wrong, there is no reason why you should not seek adequate compensation where appropriate.
Chloe Bartlett is studying law at Oxford. During her free time she enjoys writing for her own enjoyment and has recently started to share her growing knowledge with the average Joe by contributing to a range of blogs, from lifestyle to law.