To clarify for those that don't wish to read the complete post - the comments regarding liability below, refer to individuals supplying OEM components for use in the manner for which they were intended - not reconditioned, second hand or modifictionsI would reccomend that you merely allow members to contact the companies direct, as the first point of recourse is yourself as you are the supplying agent....
I've had several discussions regarding this subject and I just wanted to clarify a couple of points - particularly an error in the above post regarding "supplying agents":
If an individual put together a group of items supplied by a manufacturer or vendor, they could become the first point of recourse for any claim under the Sale of Goods Act (1979). That means that if the item was "of poor quality" the individual would (within the constraints below) normally replace the item(s) and take up the problem with the supplier. However, he has no legal requirement as a private seller or someone not "acting in the course of a business"
Under the Sale of Goods Act:
You have 3 statutory rights whether or not a written contract exists and whether or not they are specifically mentioned at any stage.
1. The seller has the right to sell - If the item is not owned by the seller, or the seller has not been given permission to sell the item, the contract is immediately invalidated – and you will own nothing.
2. It is what you expected - If you have bought something on the basis of the seller’s description or a sample, you should expect the item to conform exactly to that description or sample. If it does not, you have the right to reject the goods, demand a full refund and possibly claim damages. This is still the case even where you have selected or examined the items for yourself before buying them.
3. It is of satisfactory quality
3.1 Measurement of Quality - Satisfactory quality is defined as what a ‘reasonable person’ would regard as acceptable, and takes into account factors such as price paid, fitness for purpose specified, appearance and finish, freedom from minor blemishes, safety and durability. If it becomes apparent that an item is not of the quality you were led to expect, you were not aware of any such defect when you bought it, and you bought from a seller acting ‘in the course of a business’ (i.e. not an informal sale), you are quite within your rights to go back to the retailer, even after some months of use. If a product develops a fault within the first 6 months, the assumption will be that this defect was present at the time of purchase and you will not have to prove anything. If you are returning an item after this 6 month time period, this automatic assumption does not apply, and it may be up to you to prove the fault did not occur through misuse. You should also consider aspect of durability and acceptance. Your rights under Sale of Goods apply even if the item you have bought is second-hand, as long as you buy it from a registered trader or retailer. If you buy something from a private seller, you don’t have the benefit of this protection and must employ ‘buyer beware’.
If it is the case that you were invited to carry out a thorough inspection of the product and fail to spot a defect which that inspection ought to have revealed, you may not have recourse. Safety is an important aspect of quality and unsafe goods and product liability are covered under different legislation – namely that of the Consumer Protection Act
3.2 Fit for Purpose - You may have a legitimate claim as long as you are using the item for the purpose for which it was intended. There is no point claiming that paint thinner has had adverse effects if it is not being used as paint thinner! Similarly, if you are commissioning the manufacture of a product and do not specify the purposes for which it will be used you will have no recourse if it fails to live up to your expectations.
3.3 Durability - Durability is another recent addition to the definition of quality. How long should a dishwasher or a vacuum cleaner or a printer last? This is a very common source of complaint and one which manufacturers were always quick to turn back on the consumer, requiring them to provide proof that the item did not conform to contract specification from the start, or implying an element of misuse or neglect. Thanks to the new European Regulations, UK law now offers greater protection for consumers against products which develop faults within the first 6 months. The assumption is now that if it breaks down within this time period it cannot have conformed to the contract specification when purchased and you have the right to an automatic repair or replacement. Having said this, items which should last several years can still break down after this six month period. If the retailer or manufacturer’s warranty has run out, the shop is often quick to say there is nothing they can do before attempting to sell you an extended warranty. This is misleading. If you buy something which should last 7 years but breaks down after a year and a day, you can still claim it was of poor quality in reference to the durability aspect. In this respect it will help to know how long items such as washing machines or printers should last. You can get this information relevant trade association
When discussing safety and product liability, you aren't concerned with the Sale of Goods Act - you're looking at the Consumer Protection Act.
Under the Consumer Protection Act:
Under the Consumer Protection Act, the "supplying agent" has no legal liability for those items. That liability lies with the "......manufacturer, or any person / organisation who puts their name or trademark on the product, which generally gives the impression that they are the producer..... unless the the supplier is either unwilling or unable to provide the details of the producer....."
Damages and Compensation - To make a successful claim for damages or compensation as a result of using an unsafe item, there are a number of things you must first prove.
The product has a defect
Damage has been caused (death, personal injury, damage to private property in excess of £275)
The damage was caused by the defect
The producer can be identified
Although you no longer have to prove negligence on the part of the supplier, you still have to prove the defect, the damage and the link between the two, so it could very well amount to the same thing. You should also ensure you were using the product only for the purposes it was reasonably intended for, and there were no safety instructions which you ignored. Similarly, if a product is marketed for expert or experienced users and you are a novice, you have nobody to blame but yourself if you are injured as a result.
The Consumer Protection Act imposes liability on the producer, or any person / organisation who puts their name or trademark on the product, which generally gives the impression that they are the producer. The product may be own-branded by a retailer such as a supermarket. This is where the retailer gives the impression the product has been made by them, even though they are simply reselling someone else’s product. Where this is the case, unless the actual producer is mentioned on the packaging, it will be assumed that the retailer is the producer. Where the item has been imported into the EU from outside the EU, it will be the organisation who first imported it into the EU. This is relevant for dangerous toys which have been made in the Far East. Where you have a long distribution chain, it may be difficult to identify the liable producer. In this case you are within your rights to request details of the producer from the supplier of the product. If the supplier is either unwilling or unable to provide these details, then that person will be liable, as if they had been the producer.