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Appliance fire lawyer expresses disappointment in Government recall review response

Jill Paterson comments of the publication of the Government’s response to Lynn Faulds Wood’s product recall review

Kitchen fire

18 February 2016

Appliance fire lawyer Jill Paterson has expressed her disappointment in the Government’s luke-warm response to the Independent Recall Review produced by consumer champion Lynn Faulds Wood.

Faulds Wood was asked by the Government to carry out a review of the product recall system in the UK following the death of a man who died in a house fire caused by a faulty Beko fridge freezer.

Jill Paterson, who represented the family of Santosh Benjamin, at the inquest into his death, welcomed the commissioning of the review on product safety recalls in the UK.  

She said when the review was announced, ‘Coroner Walker was unequivocal when handing down his verdict that more needs to be done to protect consumers’. Many consumers are unaware that they may have a recalled appliance in their homes.

Faulty electrical goods such as tumble dryers and fridge freezers are estimated by consumer group Which? to cause some 4,000 house fires every year.

The Independent Recall Review has now been published, together with the Government’s response.

The Review looks at issues that affect the effectiveness of the UK’s consumer product recall system, and how the UK’s systems interact with the wider EU RAPEX system which identifies and removes unsafe consumer products from the market.  

The Review makes a number of recommendations including:
  • The need for the creation of an official national product safety agency
  • The creation of an official trusted product safety website
  • A need to improve funding, training, resources and procedures for market surveillance
  • Looking at alternative funding solutions to improve the recall system
  • Introducing a ‘mapping’ of organisations involved in  product recall and better data and information sharing to prevent injury, damage and death
  • The re-introduction of a national injury database
  • Improving consumer interest and involvement in the recall process
  • Using the resources of the UK’s universities to inform and improve product safety.

The Government’s response to the Review is to announce the setting up of a steering group made up of manufacturers, distributors, trade associations, consumer groups and market surveillance authorities.

This steering group will appoint its own chair and terms of reference and will monitor progress on each of the recommendations listed in the Review.  The group will publish a progress report in due course.

Appliance fire lawyer Jill Paterson says:

“It is disappointing to learn that the Government has not whole-heartedly accepted the package of eminently sensible recommendations put forward by Lynn Faulds Wood in her review.

“Many people who have contacted me after suffering from serious house fires had no idea that their appliances were the subject of a product recall.

“Despite calls from Coroner Walker that a radical overhaul of the product recall system was needed, and the production of a set of recommendations that would have done much to protect consumers, the Government seems happy to let manufacturers and distributors play a major role in monitoring their own performance.”

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