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Personal_Injury

Defective product design causing injury

| Published on July 17, 2017

It is generally expected that when you purchase a product, it will be free from any defect and safe to use such that it will not cause damage or injury to anything or anyone.

What do you do then if the normal use of a product causes damage to property, or results in personal injury, due to its defective design? What do you have to prove?

The law defines a defect in a product as “the safety of the product is not such as persons generally are entitled to expect” (s.3 Consumer Protection Act 1987 (‘CPA’)) and goes on to state the “safety” of a product includes the risk of damage to property, death or personal injury.

Until recently, the guidance for such a claim was given in the case of Ide v ATB Sales Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 424.  In this case the Claimant fell from his mountain bike, as a result of a fracture in the handlebar, causing him to injure himself.  The product was shown to have been manufactured with a physical defect which resulted in the injury.  The Court of Appeal stated that it was not necessary to prove precisely how the defect arose, only that it was present and caused the injury, and was not as a result of any consequential damage.

Recently, in May 2017, the Court of Appeal decided upon the case of Baker v KTM Sportmotorcycle UK Ltd and another [2017] EWCA Civ 378.  The Claimant received serious injuries resulting from the failure of his motorcycle’s brake system. Despite being a second hand motorcycle, it had been properly serviced and maintained with a low mileage.  The brake mechanism was shown to have failed “as a result of a design defect combined with faulty construction or the use of inappropriate or faulty materials”.  The susceptibility of the brake system to such galvanic corrosion was held to be a ‘defect’ and it was not necessary to prove the precise nature of the defect or that it was present at manufacture (as was required in the Ide v ATB case).

The Court of Appeal rejected the motorcycle manufacturer’s argument that there was no, or no sufficient, evidence that the galvanic corrosion was caused by a defect in the motorcycle within the meaning of the CPA. This case has endorsed existing law and potentially made it easier to make a claim under the CPA by extending the scope of a “defect” to include a defect arising in the design and construction process.

Andy Brunning

For further advice please contact the commercial team at our offices in Poole on 01202 725400 or Dorchester on 01305 251007.

Visit us at www.hklaw.eu and follow us @HumphriesKirk.

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