Product Safety and Liability Law in Japan: From Minamata to Mad Cows

By Luke Nottage | Go to book overview
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Comparing the PL Law with other 'strict liability' regimes in Europe, Australia and the US


Having sketched the historical evolution of PL law in broad socio-economic context in the US, the EU, and especially Japan, this chapter turns to a closer 'black letter law' comparison of central aspects of this developing area of law. Particular attention is paid to Japan's PL Law of 1994, and similar 'strict liability' statutory regimes in Europe (the 1985 EC Directive) and Australia (Part VA of the TPA). Of course, to varying extents, national legislation implementing the Directive in EU member states adopts different formulations (see e.g. Hodges 1993). This has been further highlighted by some of the Commission's cases brought before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as mentioned in Chapter 2 and discussed further below (comparing PL Law Article 6). Member states were also expressly permitted-and certainly took-various combinations of options in implementation, notably the important 'development risks' defence discussed below (comparing PL Law Article 4(1)), as shown in Table 3.1.

For these reasons, and others, 1 the impact of the Directive-inspired legislation may vary considerably in individual member states (see e.g. Goyens 1996a). A sense of this is provided in this chapter by focusing on some significant developments in the UK, as these may still tend to impact on Australian PL law-especially case law, even though the impact of EU law itself in Australian courts has been growing steadily (Vranken 1993). Further, as part of the broader consumer protection initiatives from EU institutions recently, as mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2, many reforms have been proposed for the PL Directive (Hodges 2000b:126-30). Even if these find some traction, though, the Directive has provided-and should continue to offer-a useful common core of legislative history; rules and principles; and a steady accretion of case law from the ECJ and especially national courts (e.g. Schuster 1998), which seem increasingly willing to draw directly on each others' jurisprudence. In addition, because of the historical and continuing interest in US PL law in the EU, Japan and Australia, this chapter adds a comparison of the Restatement Third (sometimes abbreviated as 'R 3d' in this chapter). As sketched in Chapter 2, this was published in 1998 to summarize-and at times to give some direction to-the voluminous case law percolating up from state courts, along with some more specific legislative


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Product Safety and Liability Law in Japan: From Minamata to Mad Cows


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