Liability for defective products : a comparative study of English and Malaysian law
Product liability, which is generally understood as referring to the civil liability of a manufacturer or distributor for damage caused by a defect in the product, has undergone rapid changes and become increasingly important in the contemporary legal, social and economic development of many countries in different parts of the world. The concept of strict product liability is now an accepted part of the legal regime for consumer protection in most industrialised countries such as the USA, the EC, Australia and Japan. On the other hand, a developing country such as Malaysia is still in the process of enacting a proper law in this respect. The question thus arises as to whether the same principle of strict liability can be adopted in Malaysia. Focusing on the development of product liability law in the UK as a basis for the general understanding of the subject, this study attempts to answer this question as well as to find a solution to the product liability phenomenon in Malaysia. On that premise the specific objectives of the study are: (1) To identify the nature and magnitude of the problems of defective products in the UK by analysing different bases of liability which offer different protections to the injured party. (2) To provide a clear understanding of the concept of strict product liability which has been designed in the European context and implemented in the UK through Part 1 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which currently becomes the central tenet of the product liability debate. (3) To examine the existing law on product liability in Malaysia which can be found under the law of contract and the common law of negligence. (4) To examine the suitability of adopting a strict liability rule in Malaysia in preference to the present rule under the common law in the light of the real needs of the country. (5) To suggest an alternative to the present law which is more suitable in the economic and social context of Malaysia as a developing country.