Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law

Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Geraint Howells, Iain Ramsay, Thomas Wihelmsson and David Kraft

Consumer law and policy has emerged in the last half-century as a major policy concern for all nations. This Handbook of original contributions provides an international and comparative analysis of central issues in consumer law and policy in developed and developing economies.

Chapter 9: Products Liability Law in America and Europe

Geraint Howells and David G. Owen

Subjects: law - academic, consumer law, human rights, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, human rights


Geraint Howells and David G. Owen 1. Introduction Products liability, a field of law that is most developed in America and Europe, concerns the liability of a manufacturer or other seller for injuries caused by defects in products that it sells.1 This chapter presents a framework of the developing principles of products liability law in America and Europe. Comparative products liability law is quite recent,2 yet it lends a vital perspective to this area of the law in a world where products are manufactured, distributed, fail, and injure human beings without regard to the boundaries of nation states.3 Important aspects of modern products liability law, in both America and Europe, rest on principles of strict seller liability for defective goods rooted in custom and law as far back as the eye can see. These principles may be traced back at least to Roman law, which imposed an implied warranty of quality 1 D. Owen (2008), Products Liability Law, 2nd edition, St Paul, MN: ThomsonWest, § 1.1; G. Howells (ed.) (2007), The Law of Product Liability, London: LexisNexis Butterworths, para. 1.6. By America, we mean the United States thereof. 2 We trace comparative scholarship on this topic to G. Howells (1993), Comparative Product Liability, Aldershot: Dartmouth (Europe, the UK, France, Germany, Scandinavia, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and J. Stapleton (1994), Product Liability, London: Butterworths (the UK, and the US). More recent work includes A. McClurg, A. Koyuncu, and L. Sprovieri (2007), Practical Global Tort Litigation – United States, Germany...

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