A manufacturer is liable for damages caused by a defective product and under the EU product liability directive, the limitation period is ten years from the date on which the producer put the product into circulation. The limitation period was recently considered in the O'Byrne v Aventis case (2010) which concerned an eleven-year old child who suffered brain damage allegedly caused by a defective vaccine. The case had implications for all manufacturers.

In 2006, The European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that a product is put into circulation when it is taken out of the manufacturing process operated by the producers and enters a marketing process in the form in which it is offered to the public for sale or consumption.

The position becomes more complicated where the distributors are subsidiaries or closely connected to the producer. Where a subsidiary company is simply a distributor of a finished product in the form that it would be offered for sale to a consumer, the subsidiary, for example, a wholly owned motor dealership, is not a producer and the supply of the product to that entity amounts to putting the product into circulation. It is for the national court to examine the factual situation and whether in reality the subsidiary is involved in the manufacturing process. To avoid uncertainties on limitation in product liability cases, it is therefore important for manufacturers and distributors to document the date when a product is put into circulation to determine when limitation begins to run.

Apart from dealing with the issue of circulation, a related issue of the A manufacturer is liable for damages caused by a defective product and under the EU product liability directive, the limitation period is ten years from the date on which the producer put the product into circulation. The limitation period was recently considered in the O'Byrne v Aventis case (2010) which concerned an eleven-year old child who suffered brain damage allegedly caused by a defective vaccine. The case had implications for all manufacturers.

In 2006, The European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that a product is put into circulation when it is taken out of the manufacturing process operated by the producers and enters a marketing process in the form in which it is offered to the public for sale or consumption.

The position becomes more complicated where the distributors are subsidiaries or closely connected to the producer. Where a subsidiary company is simply a distributor of a finished product in the form that it would be offered for sale to a consumer, the subsidiary, for example, a wholly owned motor dealership, is not a producer and the supply of the product to that entity amounts to putting the product into circulation. It is for the national court to examine the factual situation and whether in reality the subsidiary is involved in the manufacturing process. To avoid uncertainties on limitation in product liability cases, it is therefore important for manufacturers and distributors to document the date when a product is put into circulation to determine when limitation begins to run.

Apart from dealing with the issue of circulation, a related issue of the O'Byrne decision was whether a national court is allowed to substitute parties to the litigation after the expiration of the ten year limitation period. Under CPR 19.5 (3)(a), a court may substitute a party after the end of the limitation period if the court is satisfied that the new party is to be substituted for a party who was named in the claim form by mistake.

This issue of substitution came before the Supreme Court in May 2010 because in O'Byrne the claimant had sued the wrong entity of the same group. The court ruled that substitution was not allowed under the EU directive as the ECJ had held that substitution was contrary to the product liability directive if it resulted in the claimant being able to sue a manufacturer outside the ten year limitation period. However, a parent company could still be substituted for the subsidiary outside the ten year limitation period provided that it could be proved that the parent company determined when the product was put into circulation, the person injured was not able to identify the producer and the subsidiary did not inform the injured party promptly of the identity of the producer. Therefore in a claim against a manufacturing defect under product liability, the subsidiary company should notify the claimant of the name of the producer without delay so that the correct entity may be brought into the proceedings.

A manufacturer is liable for damages caused by a defective product and under the EU product liability directive, the limitation period is ten years from the date on which the producer put the product into circulation. The limitation period was recently considered in the O'Byrne v Aventis case (2010) which concerned an eleven-year old child who suffered brain damage allegedly caused by a defective vaccine. The case had implications for all manufacturers.

In 2006, The European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that a product is put into circulation when it is taken out of the manufacturing process operated by the producers and enters a marketing process in the form in which it is offered to the public for sale or consumption.

The position becomes more complicated where the distributors are subsidiaries or closely connected to the producer. Where a subsidiary company is simply a distributor of a finished product in the form that it would be offered for sale to a consumer, the subsidiary, for example, a wholly owned motor dealership, is not a producer and the supply of the product to that entity amounts to putting the product into circulation. It is for the national court to examine the factual situation and whether in reality the subsidiary is involved in the manufacturing process. To avoid uncertainties on limitation in product liability cases, it is therefore important for manufacturers and distributors to document the date when a product is put into circulation to determine when limitation begins to run.

Apart from dealing with the issue of circulation, a related issue of the O'Byrne decision was whether a national court is allowed to substitute parties to the litigation after the expiration of the ten year limitation period. Under CPR 19.5 (3)(a), a court may substitute a party after the end of the limitation period if the court is satisfied that the new party is to be substituted for a party who was named in the claim form by mistake.

This issue of substitution came before the Supreme Court in May 2010 because in O'Byrne the claimant had sued the wrong entity of the same group. The court ruled that substitution was not allowed under the EU directive as the ECJ had held that substitution was contrary to the product liability directive if it resulted in the claimant being able to sue a manufacturer outside the ten year limitation period. However, a parent company could still be substituted for the subsidiary outside the ten year limitation period provided that it could be proved that the parent company determined when the product was put into circulation, the person injured was not able to identify the producer and the subsidiary did not inform the injured party promptly of the identity of the producer. Therefore in a claim against a manufacturing defect under product liability, the subsidiary company should notify the claimant of the name of the producer without delay so that the correct entity may be brought into the proceedings.

decision was whether a national court is allowed to substitute parties to the litigation after the expiration of the ten year limitation period. Under CPR 19.5 (3)(a), a court may substitute a party after the end of the limitation period if the court is satisfied that the new party is to be substituted for a party who was named in the claim form by mistake.

This issue of substitution came before the Supreme Court in May 2010 because in O'Byrne the claimant had sued the wrong entity of the same group. The court ruled that substitution was not allowed under the EU directive as the ECJ had held that substitution was contrary to the product liability directive if it resulted in the claimant being able to sue a manufacturer outside the ten year limitation period. However, a parent company could still be substituted for the subsidiary outside the ten year limitation period provided that it could be proved that the parent company determined when the product was put into circulation, the person injured was not able to identify the producer and the subsidiary did not inform the injured party promptly of the identity of the producer. Therefore in a claim against a manufacturing defect under product liability, the subsidiary company should notify the claimant of the name of the producer without delay so that the correct entity may be brought into the proceedings.