Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Mauro Bussani and Anthony J. Sebok
Chapter 12: Product liability
This chapter describes, discusses, and critiques the study of product liability from a comparative perspective. Its point is not to restate product liability law in and of itself in any part of the world – this would not be meaningful in this context – nor is it actually to compare product liability laws in a systematic way – that has been done by an extensive, specialized literature which will be referenced below. The point of this chapter is rather to introduce the reader to comparative product liability law as a field of study, that is, to survey its terrain and to explain its strengths and weaknesses. At the outset, it is important to be clear about the field's boundaries. Product liability traditionally means the private law remedies (in contract, tort, or under special legislation) for injuries to person and property resulting from defective products. To be sure, legal systems respond to such injuries in other ways as well, mainly by public regulation of product safety, sometimes by criminal punishment of those responsible for defects, and, more generally, by providing coverage through public or private insurance systems. These latter responses are not our primary concerns here although they will be considered as alternatives to civil damage claims in several contexts. The chapter has three main parts. The next section briefly describes the situation we currently have in product liability law: it looks at the development and status quo of the field, including the literature.
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