Wednesday, 21 December 2011

ECJ in Centre hospitalier universitaire de Besançon: Product Liability

Earlier I discussed on this blog the AG’s Opinion in case Centre hospitalier universitaire de Besançon (C-495/10). The case deals with a thirteen-year-old boy suffering burns from a defective electric blanket in a hospital in France. French law has a strict liability rule for public health providers for damages caused by defective devices and products. According to the hospital this rule breaches the full harmonisation character of the Product Liability Directive.

The Product Liability Directive, although it is not stated explicitly in the Directive itself, is an instrument of full harmonization (ECJ Case C-52/00 Commission v France). However, the Directive does not exhaustively harmonise the entire sphere of liability for liability for defective products. This means that matters not covered specifically by the Directive can still be covered by national law.

The ECJ therefore rules that the Product Liability Directive does not prevent national laws holding service providers strictly liable. The liability of service providers is not covered by the Directive, so that it does not fall under the harmonised scope of the Directive. As long as the liability of the service provider does not change the liability of those covered by the Directive. By deciding so, the ECJ follows Advocate General Mengozzi’s Opinion.

For the judgment, click here.

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