Hardening the consumer case

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WHILE Paul Rodgers is right to criticise the extraordinary product liability cases to come before the American courts and the damages awarded in them, his article largely ignores the great problems faced by consumers in the UK when bringing cases where damage has been caused by defective products ("Corporate punishment", Business, 21 May). One need only look at the cases of the Thalidomide families to see how our negligence-based system of the 1960s failed plaintiffs. Yet new provisions, such as the Consumer Protection Act 1987, still do not go far enough.

Even stricter provisions are required to force manufacturers to recognise their duty to compensate those injured by their products rather than relying on the reluctance of the consumer to enter litigation.

I would not advocate a system of punitive damages as this would rather miss the point of the tort system: to provide redress to those who have suffered loss, not to punish the guilty manufacturer. Conversely, it would not be fair to expect the victims of products to bear losses in the hope of future advances that will in turn line the pockets of manufacturers.

Richard C Wilson

Sheffield

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