The European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection organised today a public hearing to discuss the need to review the Product Liability Directive and related challenges in the new digital age. Frank Schlehuber, Senior Consultant Market Affairs at CLEPA, attended the hearing to present the association’s position on the issue.
in CLEPA, 22-01-2020
It is recognised that most accidents involving vehicles are currently caused by human error, while only a small percentage is credited to technical failures. However, as more autonomous functions start to become present in cars, there is a shift in liability from the driver to the vehicle manufacturers whether they are OEMs or automotive suppliers.
CLEPA supports the need to serve the end-consumer and to provide them with a safe, secure environment and to ensure that a victim of a road traffic accident is compensated in an easy, speedily and efficient manner. However, it is the view of CLEPA that the scope and application should be extended to include all relevant market participants and stakeholders, involved in this new ecosystem.
During the hearing, CLEPA raised four main concerns regarding the need to review the Product Liability Directive, namely the scope of application of its article 1: “The producer shall be liable for damage caused by a defect in his product.”
First, CLEPA believes that the “product” is no longer seen as a physical product, and there should be a new definition that integrates software and other services, as well as recognises that they are dependent on additional data to make them work.
Second, the current definition of “defect” already opens a wide room of flexibility, however there should be a guidance from lawmakers on what is understood under artificial intelligence.
Third, there is a need for an extension on the producer’s definition that includes all players, even to those who modify products.
Lastly, our industry is dependent on R&I and there needs to be a certain freedom during development phase, therefore the exemption to liability during this phase of a product should be maintained and, if possible, reinforced to maintain our industry competitive.