- Category: Consumer Act
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 (1987 c. 43) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made important changes to the consumer law of the United Kingdom. Part 1 implemented European Community (EC) Directive 85/374/EEC, the product liability directive, by introducing a regime of strict liability for damage arising from defective products. Part 2 created government powers to regulate the safety of consumer products through Statutory Instruments. Part 3 defined a criminal offence of giving a misleading price indication.
A product is any goods or electricity and includes products aggregated into other products, whether as component parts, raw materials or otherwise (s.1 (2) (c)) though a supplier of the aggregate product is not liable simply on the basis of that fact (s.1 (3)). Buildings and land are not included though construction materials such as bricks and girders are. Information and software are not included though printed instructions and embedded software are relevant to the overall safety of a product. The original Act did not apply to unprocessed game or agricultural produce (s.2(4)) but this exception was repealed on 4 December 2000 to comply with EU Directive 1999/34/EC which was enacted because of fears over BSE.
The UK was one of only a few EU member states that implemented Directive 85/374 within the three year deadline. There is a view that the Act "probably represents the truest implementation" of the directive among member states. The UK did not take the option of applying a ceiling on claims for personal injury and in certain respects it goes further than the directive. The first claim under the Act was not brought to court until 2000, 12 years after the Act came into force and, as of 2004, and there have been very few court cases. This pattern is common in other EU member states and research indicates that most claims are settled out of court. Exact information on the impact of the Act is difficult to obtain as there is no reporting requirement similar to that under the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act.