The claimant does not need to prove that the manufacturer/supplier was negligent; merely that it was the product that caused the damage.
Article 8(3) of the Limitation (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 provides that actions in respect of damages for defective products shall not be brought after the expiration of 10 years from the date of supply/manufacture etc in accordance with terms of Article 7 of the Consumer Protection (Northern Ireland) Order 1987.
Article 8(4) provides that an action for damages for personal injury caused by a defective product, or of loss of, or damage to any property, shall not be later than:
- three years from the date the cause of action accrued
- three years from the date of knowledge of the injured person or property owner, whichever is the later
However, it needs to be noted that Article 50 of the Limitation (NI) Order 1989 provides a discretion to allow an action for damages for personal injury or death to proceed (including damages in respect of personal injury/death caused by a defective product) if there would otherwise be prejudice to a party to legal proceedings.
This discretion does not extend to a claim for loss or damage to property caused by defective products.
Records management considerations
A claimant generally has three years to begin legal action after the damage, however this period may be extended to ten years after the product was supplied.
The HSC is affected by these provisions and may be liable as a supplier or user of a product.
Therefore, it is important that accurate records are maintained for all products that may fall into this category in order that any claim can be defended.