Find Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia for Product Liability Litigation

Practice Area Overview

Product liability law in Australia is regulated by a combination of common law principles and legislation. The main legislation pertaining to product liability is found on the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) which forms part of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), a Commonwealth Act which applies throughout all States and Territories in Australia.

Under the ACL, businesses must guarantee products and services that they sell against faults and products must match descriptions and be fit for any marketed purpose. This applies to all goods sold for under $40,000 and to goods sold for more than that amount which are usually acquired for household or domestic use. In addition, the ACL renders liable manufacturers and in some cases importers of goods which, because of some safety defect, cause injury or damage to property. It does this by establishing a statutory cause of action for damages where goods have a safety defect and this defect causes damage or injury. Importers of goods from overseas companies who do not have a place of business in Australia are deemed to be the manufacturer and can be sued on the same basis. The term safety defect is given a wide definition to include goods whose safety is not such as people generally are entitled to expect.

In addition to these statutory rights, common law rights still exist. If a manufacturer negligently produces goods which are sold and which cause injury or damage, there also may be a cause of action in negligence.

Lawyers practising in this area must have a good working understanding of these principles and may be called upon to act in matters involving individual injuries or damage. In addition, in some local jurisdictions, products which cause more widespread damage or injury can be the subject of class action litigation.
Stephen White, Partner McCullough Robertson
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