Commission of the European Communities v United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

JurisdictionEuropean Union
ECLIECLI:EU:C:1997:255
CourtCourt of Justice (European Union)
Date29 May 1997
Docket NumberC-300/95
Procedure TypeRecours en constatation de manquement - non fondé
Celex Number61995CJ0300
EUR-Lex - 61995J0300 - EN 61995J0300

Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 29 May 1997. - Commission of the European Communities v United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. - Failure of a Member State to fulfil obligations - Article 7(e) of Directive 85/374/EEC - Incorrect implementation - Defense precluding liability for defective products - State of scientific and technical knowledge. - Case C-300/95.

European Court reports 1997 Page I-02649


Summary
Parties
Grounds
Decision on costs
Operative part

Keywords

Approximation of laws - Liability for defective products - Directive 85/374 - Defence to liability - Condition - State of scientific and technical knowledge not such as to enable the defect to be discovered - Concept - National implementing provision - Infringement not made out

(Council Directive 85/374, Article 7(e))

Summary

In order for a producer to incur liability for defective products under Directive 85/374, the victim does not have to prove that the producer was at fault; however, in accordance with the principle of fair apportionment of risk between the injured person and the producer set forth in the seventh recital in the preamble to the directive, the producer has a defence if he can prove certain facts exonerating him from liability, including `that the state of scientific and technical knowledge at the time when he put the product into circulation was not such as to enable the existence of the defect to be discovered'. Whilst the producer has to prove that the objective state of scientific and technical knowledge, including the most advanced level of such knowledge, without any restriction as to the industrial sector concerned, was not such as to enable the existence of the defect to be discovered, in order for the relevant knowledge to be successfully pleaded as against the producer, that knowledge must have been accessible at the time when the product in question was put into circulation.

A national implementing provision to the effect that the producer has a defence if he can prove that the state of such knowledge was `not such that a producer of products of the same description as the product in question might be expected to have discovered the defect if it had existed in his products while they were under his control' is not manifestly contrary to that Community rule. The argument that such national provision permits account to be taken of the subjective knowledge of a producer taking reasonable care, having regard to the standard precautions taken in the industrial sector in question, selectively stresses particular terms used in the provision without demonstrating that the general legal context of the provision at issue fails effectively to secure full application of the directive.

Parties

In Case C-300/95,

Commission of the European Communities, represented by Peter Oliver, of its Legal Service, acting as Agent, and Mark Mildred, Solicitor, with an address for service in Luxembourg at the office of Carlos Gómez de la Cruz, of its Legal Service, Wagner Centre, Kirchberg,

applicant,

v

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by John E. Collins, of the Treasury Solicitor's Department, acting as Agent, and K. Paul E. Lasok QC, with an address for service in Luxembourg at the British Embassy, 14 Boulevard Roosevelt,

defendant,

APPLICATION for a declaration that, by failing to take all the measures necessary to implement Council Directive 85/374/EEC of 25 July 1985 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning liability for defective products (OJ 1985 L 210, p. 29), in particular Article 7(e) thereof, the United Kingdom has failed to fulfil its obligations under that directive and under the EC Treaty,

THE COURT

(Fifth Chamber),

composed of: J.C. Moitinho de Almeida, President of the Chamber, C. Gulmann, D.A.O. Edward, J.-P. Puissochet and M. Wathelet (Rapporteur), Judges,

Advocate General: G. Tesauro,

Registrar: H.A. Rühl, Principal Administrator,

having regard to the Report for the Hearing,

after hearing oral argument from the parties at the hearing on 7 November 1996,

after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General at the sitting on 23 January 1997,

gives the following

Judgment

Grounds

1 By application lodged at the Court Registry on 20 September 1995, the Commission of the European Communities brought an action under Article 169 of the EC...

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1 practice notes
  • Pip, Breast Implants And Consumer Protection In Europe
    • European Union
    • Mondaq European Union
    • 21 May 2012
    ...and enforcement measures Part VII. 2 Directive (EEC) 93/42, Art 1.2 (f); the Regulations, reg 2 (1) 3 The Regulations, reg 17 (2) 4 Case C-300/95 Commission v UK 5 section 2(1) CPA 6 section 5(4) CPA 7 section 5(1) CPA 8 s33 Limitation Act 1980 9 Art 11 Directive 10 [2001] EWHC QB 446 (26th......
1 firm's commentaries
  • Pip, Breast Implants And Consumer Protection In Europe
    • European Union
    • Mondaq European Union
    • 21 May 2012
    ...and enforcement measures Part VII. 2 Directive (EEC) 93/42, Art 1.2 (f); the Regulations, reg 2 (1) 3 The Regulations, reg 17 (2) 4 Case C-300/95 Commission v UK 5 section 2(1) CPA 6 section 5(4) CPA 7 section 5(1) CPA 8 s33 Limitation Act 1980 9 Art 11 Directive 10 [2001] EWHC QB 446 (26th......

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