"Product Liability in a Global Context: The Hollow Victory of the European Model"

Michigan Law Authors
Publish Date
European Review of Private Law
Publication Type
Journal Article

In the last few decades, product liability has established itself as a subject in its own right in many parts of the world. This is well-known for the United States and Western Europe but it is also true in Central and Eastern Europe, on the Pacific Rim (including Australia), parts of Latin America, and elsewhere. Surprisingly, the numerous countries which have recently adopted special product liability rules have sought guidance not from American law but from the European model, especially from the EC Directive of 1985. This Directive has become something like an internationally leading blueprint so that globally speaking, the American approach has become almost an outsider. Yet, while the European model has had great worldwide influence on the law on the books, it has had very little impact on the law in action. In most countries, the European influence has neither significantly affected the nature nor the frequency of suits for damages caused by defective goods. This discrepancy between the Directive's influence in theory and its impotence in practice illustrates how deceptive and ineffective mere blackletter law harmonization can be.

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