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Product liability

Producers and manufacturers must make safety a key part of production. This means that you must:

  • Include safety at every stage, from initial design through to selling.
  • Check whether there are any specific regulations covering your product.
  • Check whether there are any safety standards that apply to your product. If so, check that you meet the standards.
  • Think how you can ensure that your products meet your quality standard. This could be by testing samples. You could consider introducing a formal quality assurance scheme.

Importers are responsible in the same way as manufacturers. Although you cannot control production, you should take a similar approach to preventing problems.

Distributors, such as shops, must not do anything that affects product safety. Otherwise, you could have the same responsibilities as a producer. You should therefore:

  • give customers any safety information provided by the producer
  • investigate safety complaints from customers, and tell the manufacturer
  • co-operate with Trading Standards officers

Think about ways to protect yourself if you are sued. Consider the following:

  • Purchasing product liability insurance to cover damages and legal costs.
  • Agreeing contracts that pass on costs. For example, you can ask a supplier to indemnify you against any claim for damages caused by their products.
  • Keeping adequate records. You may need to defend yourself against a claim up to ten years after supplying a product.

If you think you're at risk, take advice from your business adviser or solicitor. Your trade association may also help with information about standards and best practice in your industry.

Subjects covered in this guide

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Health, safety, premises



Product liability





Your responsibilities


Am I liable?


What happens if I am liable?


Defending a product liability claim

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Preventing problems