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Are there any statutory criteria under which a product must be recalled or other corrective action be taken?
Several pieces of legislation govern product safety including the Consumer Product Safety Act. Separate rules apply to road transport vehicles, pharmaceutical products and other products which are not treated as consumer products regulated by the act. ‘Consumer products’ are defined as products to be supplied mainly for use by general consumers for routine everyday activities.
The Product Liability Act does not require a manufacturer to recall or repair a product found to be defective in a product liability lawsuit. However, the Consumer Product Safety Act vests powers in the competent minister (often the METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) Minister) to:
- investigate complaints relating to particular products;
- compel manufacturers and importers to disclose information on unsafe products; and
- order recalls or other remedial actions if the ministry finds it necessary.
Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, a person engaging in the manufacture or import of consumer products is legally obliged to investigate the cause of product accidents, and if it finds it necessary to prevent the occurrence and decrease the risk of a danger, it must endeavour to recall the products or otherwise take preventive action. In the event of a serious accident, or where serious danger has occurred to the lives or bodies of consumers or the danger is imminent, the minister may order the person engaging in the manufacture or import of products to recall them or otherwise take measures to prevent risks.
Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, a manufacturer or importer must report the occurrence of a serious product accident to the competent minister. The minister may publicly announce the serious incident. Those that are not serious may be reported to the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation.
What rules and procedures govern notification of the product recall to government authorities and the public?
Repairs, replacements and refunds
What rules and procedures govern repairs, replacements and refunds for defective products?
The various laws and regulations do not generally provide for any mandatory repair, replacement and repair procedures. However, the Consumer Product Safety Act provides that where the lives or bodies of general consumers could be at risk, the minister may order a product recall and other measures needed to prevent risks. Manufacturers typically implement measures that will prevent further hazards or product deterioration and the authorities generally provide guidance or instructions.
What penalties apply for non-compliance with the legal provisions governing product recalls?
Manufacturers or importers of consumer products may be ordered by the relevant authority under a hazard prevention order to recall products where:
- serious accidents have happened;
- the lives of consumers have been jeopardised;
- the occurrence of danger is imminent; or
- the authority wants to prevent the reoccurrence of any danger (Article 39(1) of the Consumer Product Safety Act).
Violation may be punished by up to one years’ imprisonment, a fine up to Y1 million or both (Article 58).
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