Liability for defective products under Australian law

Peter Gillies

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Liability for defective products (goods and services) in Australia exists at both common law and under statute. Relevant legislation is found at both federal, State and Territorial levels. The principal statute of relevance is the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth), a federal statute. As the federal parliament is a legislature of limited law making powers, the Trade Practices Act targets conduct by corporations in trade or commerce, rather than unincorporated businesses. In practice of course, most suppliers of products are incorporated. Unincorporated businesses (as well as incorporated ones) are targeted by the State and Territorial Fair Trading Acts, which contain consumer provisions parallelling, more or less, those in the Trade Practices Act. In common with other industrialised countries, Australian law over the last four decades has evolved so as to vest a plethora of new rights and remedies in consumers of products. This development has been principally (but not exclusively) at the level of statute law. The new statutory law has added to common law rights and remedies, and to some extent, has displaced these. In particular, it has augmented the consumers' ability to sue suppliers with whom they are not in contractual relationship, and it has frequently imposed strict liability upon the supplier. The new law has also created broadened access to justice, such as by creating non-judicial tribunals to determine consumer claims expeditiously and cheaply. The ongoing process of reviewing and developing consumer policy and law attracts strong public, media and political support. This paper examines the civil law governing liability for defective products. The rules creating substantive rights and liabilities will be examined, following which the institutional framework for the determination of claims for defective products will be reviewed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Convergence of legal systems in the 21st century
    Subtitle of host publicationan Australian approach
    EditorsGabriël A. Moens, Rodolphe Biffot
    Place of PublicationBrisbane, Qld
    PublisherThe Australian Institute of Foreign and Comparative Law and contributors
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Print)1876344091
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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