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Product Liability Laws and Regulations in the UAE

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:41:00

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If a consumer purchases a certain product, then the safety of such product needs to be ensured. What would a UAE citizen or consumer do if he/she is injured or supplied with a product that is defective or offers defective service or does not meet reasonable safety or prescribed standards?

To solve this problem, The United Arab Emirates provides for certain Laws that deals with ‘Product Liability’ providing certain rights to the consumers and imposing duties and penalties on the suppliers of such product.

 Product Liability and its Implications

Product Liability refers to a manufacturer's or seller's legal responsibility to compensate customers who have been harmed as a result of the product they purchased. Its objective is to protect consumers from dangerous, defective, faulty products or products that does not meet certain safety standards.

At the same time, accountability will be laid on the manufacturer, subsequent chain of distribution and retail for putting the products in the marketplace at the first instance.

An internationally renowned lecturer and author, Pia Mellody once said “A healthy boundary creates controlled vulnerability”. Therefore, creating a standardised boundary (UAE’s Law and Regulation) for the products in market would ensure controlled vulnerability (safety of consumers).

 Product Liability Laws and Regulations in UAE

For establishing product liability, a UAE consumer can file a suit before the courts on the basis of contractual liability and tortious liability. However, the main areas of Law and regulations relating to product liability are Consumer Protection Law and Product Safety Law.

  1. Consumer Protection Law (CPL):

In November 2020, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE, approved the Federal Law No. (15) of 2020 (New CPL) by repealing the Federal Law No. (24) of 2006 (Old CPL). This major step expanded the consumer’s right as well the scope of Product Liability by including the e-commerce channel and free zone areas in UAE.

The goal of this Law is to protect consumer rights by ensuring:

  • Safety and health of the consumer
  • Quality of services and goods
  • Good consumption patterns

Delving Deeper into main provisions:

  • Scope of CPL:

According to Article 3, the Law applies to suppliers (includes manufacturers, distributors etc), commercial agents, advertisers covering all goods and services provided or sold by them in UAE.

Now, the ecommerce platforms which sell goods and are registered in UAE are also covered by this Law. This is a welcoming step considering the enormous growth of the ecommerce sector in UAE, especially during COVID-19, such measure would extend the Product Liability by further protecting consumer rights.

  • Consumer’s Rights:

Article 4 lays down various consumer’s right including the right to procurement of correct information about the services received or goods purchased, consumed or used. Receiving fair compensation for the damages that the consumer suffered due to using or buying a defective product(s) or not receiving professional or sufficient services is also considered. While providing any service or goods, consumer’s religious values, traditions and customs must be respected and so forth.

  • Obligations of the Supplier:

There are various obligations stipulated in this law, however, the relevant ones are:

  1. As per Article 7, while offering the product for sale, explanatory information should be made available to the consumer. If the usage of a certain good is hazardous, then the same must be stated clearly by the supplier.
  2. According to Article 10, the supplier is required to implement all warranties ranging from providing maintenance, spare-parts, replacement of goods or initiate refund and perform after sales services within specified time period. The Supplier shall guarantee that the Service he offers is free from defects and malfunctions for a period of time appropriate with the nature of that Service; or else, a refund shall be initiated against the consumer in full or in-part or the service be re-performed properly.
  3. Article 12 states that the supplier shall repair or replace the product or service or re-perform it free-of-charge, if any malfunction is found in the product or service.
  4. Article 17 prohibits the supplier, commercial agents and the advertisers from giving a description of product and service that holds incorrect data as well as no misleading advertisement should be made regarding the same.
  5. Article 20 obliges the supplier to ensure that the product or service fulfils the standard specifications relating to safety and health.
  • Penalties:

An Imprisonment of upto 2 years along with a fine not exceeding AED 2 million, as per Article 29, shall be applied to the suppliers who provide misleading prices and advertisements, incorrect data, failure to give clear information and labelling or fails to replace or repair a defective product free-of-charge.

  1. Product Safety Law:

This ‘first and new’ law (Federal law No. 10/2018), specifically dealing with product safety in UAE, came into force in 2019.The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) will supervise its implementation in coordination with other relevant authorities.

  • Products Covered:

Products manufactured in or imported into UAE, including the free zones are covered under this law. It however excludes some products like veterinary and human medicines, artefacts and certain kinds of second-hand products.

  • Compliance:

The law imposes various obligations on the ‘suppliers’ of products which are defined broadly to capture many people/agents involved in the supply chain.

  • Certain Supplier’s Obligations:
  1. Unsafe products must not be introduced in UAE.
  2. Ensuring that during normal use, the products must remain safe.
  3. In-case a product becomes unsafe during normal use, remedial measures must be taken.
  • Penalties:

For breaching this law, upto AED 3 million and possibly imprisonment can be imposed. Destruction or seizure of such products, closure of business for upto six months and trading licence of the supplier can be revoked.

How to seek Redressal?

UAE’s Ministry of Economy (MOE) has set up a Consumer Protection Department that deals with consumer complaints relating to any service or product which he/she has received/bought from the provider. The Consumer Protection Department does not charge any fees or require a need to hire a lawyer by the consumer to register the complaint.

The decision of this department can be appealed before the MOE. Subsequently, the parties also have the right to object MOE’s decision before the competent courts in UAE.

The consumer can also directly file a complaint before the competent court, by not necessarily going to the Consumer Protection Department at first. This can be exercised for putting more pressure on the provider as such public hearing in court would impact the reputation.

By Kopal Bhargava

Pic- Indiafilings.com

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