Thomas Wilhelmsson and Geraint Howells
Geraint Howells and David G. Owen
This chapter deals with product liability, i.e. the civil redress for harm caused by defective products. This has been one of the most contentious areas of private law since the 1960s. The USA was the first state to adopt a strict product liability regime and saw an expansion of claims brought by consumers. The legal climate in the USA is now less favourable to consumer claims that challenge the design of products, and true strict liability seems restricted to manufacturing defects. Europe adopted strict liability later and still seems more open to compensating for a wider range of design defects. However, the underlying policy tensions and uncertainty over the precise concepts underpinning strict liability mean the scope of EU law in this area is not fully settled. The chapter concludes by hoping that as both regimes grapple with similar dilemmas there can be greater convergence over time.