Faulty goods: more restrictive rules on products for professional use

The civil liability reform project clarifies manufacturer’s liability in case of faulty goods for professional use, suggesting a more restrictive interpretation of the directive of 25th July 1985.

On 13th March 2017, the Ministry of Justice presented the project to reform civil liability, that has the scope of modernizing the civil liability regime. The reform stipulates in particular the replacement of the current article 1245-1 of the civil code, concerning liability in terms of faulty goods[1].

Actually, the new article 1290 limits the possibilities of recourse precising that the product must be « for private use and consumption and has been used by the victim for its private use or consumption».

This evolution recalls the debates caused by the judgment of the Court of Justice of European Communities of 4th June 2009 (C-285/08). Following a fire provoked by a power generator in a hospital, legal proceedings had been engaged against the manufacturer. The latter, had asserted that the security obligation for private vendors does not cover damages caused to objects for professional use, in accordance with the directive of 25th July 1985 n°85/374 on liability due to faulty goods. Taking into account the dispute opposing the parties, the Court of Cassation had seized the Court of Justice of European Communities for the interlocutory question: in the framework of the liability regime of faulty goods, can a victim ask for the compensation of a damage caused to an object for professional use?

The Court of Justice of European Communities had given a quite soft judgement, thinking the directive did not oppose to the interpretation of a national right or the application of an established internal jurisprudence and allowing then the Member Countries to include between recoverable damages those caused to goods for professional use.

The reform project comes again on this jurisprudence, strictly interpreting the article 9 of the directive of 25th July 1985 and therefore, reducing the possibilities of recourse.

If the reform is just at the stage of a project, however, we can already anticipate its consequences for losses where the manufacturer liability is researched for a security default of a good that provoked damages to professional goods.

 

Stéphanie DUMOULIN, Industry & Service Loss Adjuster

[1] « The provisions of the present chapter (concerning liability for faulty goods) are applicable to the damage repair resulting from an injury to a human being. They are also applicable to damage repair higher than an amount determined by a decree, that results from the damage to an asset different from the faulty good itself ». Article 1245-1 of the Civil Code