Consumers Protected from Faulty Imports
In a world where manufacture and supply are so far removed, it has become increasingly difficult to bring claims for compensation against overseas manufacturers who export products to local suppliers.
Not only is it difficult to hold a company in a different jurisdiction responsible for an injury, but the costs and time associated with trying to do so usually render it commercially unviable.
Fortunately, Australian legislation aims to protect consumers by holding certain parties in the supply chain (from the growers, to the packagers, right through to the end supplier) responsible for injuries arising from safety defects in products.
If a product is not to a standard which is generally expected and causes injury as a result, it may be possible to bring a compensation claim. But who do you make a claim against?'
Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), a manufacturer is not just the company responsible for manufacturing a product, but also one which processes, assembles or rebrands an item. Further, if a manufacturer operates solely outside of Australia, the local supplier can be considered to be the manufacturer.
In these instances, and provided certain pre-conditions are met, an individual in the supply chain may be considered a 'deemed manufacturer'.
For example, a consumer buys a ladder from the local hardware store, then is injured in a fall as a result of a faulty rung. A Chinese corporation with no place of business in Australia manufactured the ladder, but the local hardware store is the deemed manufacturer and a claim could potentially be made against it.
As another example, a person buys a can of food from a supermarket. The manufacturer is Australian but the can is rebranded as the supermarket's 'own brand'. It contains a substance unsafe for consumption and makes someone seriously ill. In this case, the supermarket that has rebranded the product becomes the deemed manufacturer, potentially becoming liable for the claim.
The current regime instituted by the ACL promotes efficiency and helps overcome the shortcomings of the common law.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a faulty or defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. Strict limitation periods apply and it is important to seek advice at the earliest possible opportunity.