Product Safety and Australian Consumer Laws

by The FindLaw Team

One of the primary things we as consumers are reliant on is that the goods we purchase are free from any defects that may cause us harm. We don’t want to purchase a product, bring it home, and then have it blow up in our faces in a literal sense. Thankfully, Australia has stringent laws that protect consumers from dangerous products that may cause injury, and manufacturers who fail in their duties to protect consumers from producing hazardous goods can face steep penalties as outlined in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Who is a ‘manufacturer’?

The new ACL product safety guidelines don’t deviate too drastically from the former Trade Practices Act, which requires manufacturers to supply goods that are in compliance with the minimum legislative safety standards. However, before we begin with a breakdown of the product safety laws, it’s important that we identify who the ACL applies to – namely, the ‘manufacturer’. But who is a ‘manufacturer’? Under s 7 of the ACL, a manufacturer is defined as:

• anyone who manufactures goods
• anyone who holds him or herself out to the public as the manufacturer of goods
• anyone who permits their name or brand to be used in conjunction with the goods
• anyone who permits another entity to promote the goods as being manufactured by the individual or company
• anyone who is involved in the importation of the product or goods.

By defining who is a ‘manufacturer’ under the ACL, allows a person to initiate legal action against the appropriate individual or company in the event that an unsafe product has been produced.

When is a manufacturer liable for a defective product?

Manufacturers of goods produced for public consumption are expected to adhere to the safety requirements outlined in the ACL, and are seen to fail their legal obligations when:

• the goods have a safety defect which has caused loss, damage or injury to a person
• the defective goods has caused loss or damage to other goods
• the defective goods has caused damage to land, buildings or fixtures.

When a person suffers loss, damage or injuries due to a safety defect, the ACL allows an individual to bring an action against a manufacturer who has produced the defective product.

What actions can be initiated against a manufacturer of defective goods?

If a person successfully establishes that the manufacturer has caused loss, damage or injury by producing a defective product, a person can either seek damages (s 236), compensation orders (s 237), or other orders that the court may deem appropriate (s 243) in order to alleviate the loss or injury suffered which was caused by the defective product. It should be remembered that the overarching goal of the ACL is the protection of the consumer from harm.

The rigorous legislative protections outlined under the ACL is evidence of the seriousness in which Australian law requires manufacturers to produce goods that won’t endanger the public. If you have any issues in relation to a defective product, please seek the appropriate legal help.    


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