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Changes to the Consumer Product Safety Regime

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The Federal parliament recently amended the Trade Practices Act introducing a new Consumer Product Safety Regime in Australia.  The amendments affect product recalls and manufacturer and supplier defect liability.  The amended provisions will commence on 1 January 2011.

The new Consumer Product Safety Regime will provide that:

  • The trigger for a recall of consumer goods (whether voluntary or compulsory) now includes safety risks resulting from ‘reasonably foreseeable use or misuse’, i.e. common uses that may present a safety risk, even if they are not intended or normal use can prompt a recall to be conducted
  • Provisions regulating the recall of consumer goods will not be limited to corporations, but will instead apply to ‘a person’
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) has the power to directly recall goods where no supplier can be found to undertake the recall
  • Compulsory recall notices must be published online, which increases public exposure of defective products
  • Notification requirements for voluntary recalls of consumer goods have been simplified
  • Overall, the regime now extends to natural persons as well as corporations, therefore the existing statutory scheme of suppliers or manufacturers liability for loss or damage suffered as a result of a product safety defect will now extend to the recovery of loss and damage from natural persons who are suppliers and manufacturers.

The expansion of the triggers for recalls of consumer goods, together with the ACCC’s increasing powers of product recall, mean that suppliers should consider undertaking voluntary recalls of products at an early stage. While suppliers will still need to consult with the ACCC in conducting a voluntary recall (in accordance with the guidelines), initiating a recall will increase a supplier’s ability to retain control over the recall and minimise any potential harm to their brand.

Our Dispute Resolution & Litigation lawyers can assist you with conducting recalls or answer any questions you may have about the amendments above.

Author:  Louise Tolson

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