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Product safety laws to be upgraded, announces Government

Product safety laws that are over 30 years old are to be modernised to ensure they are fit for new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing, the Government has announced.

Posted on 11 March 2021

In an announcement issued today, the Government says it intends to make the UK product safety regime one of the best in the world, “exploring better regulation while maintaining high standards’.

A call for evidence has been issued to investigate how regulations can keep up with technology such as machine learning within AI and products built in consumers’ homes by 3D printing, reports Press Association (PA).

The changes are being made following the UK exit from the European Union, whose laws have “underpinned” the UK product safety regime, say the Government.

Rules will be checked for purpose against connected devices like smart watches and fridge freezers, where software upgrades make responsibility for product safety more complex, reports PA.

The Government has asked for input from manufacturers, distributors, consumers and the wider public over the next three months and intends to publish a summary of responses and an evidence paper within another 12 weeks.

Leigh Day product safety lawyers will submit evidence to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Office for Product Safety and Standards based on their experience from the consumers that they represent.

There are expected to be 50 billion devices connected to the internet globally by 2030, including everything from smartphones to toasters to complex robots, meaning a five-fold increase in such devices in 10 years.

The announcement is the first step in updating the legal framework for product safety, some of which dates back to the Consumer Protection Act of 1987.

Business Minister Paul Scully said:

“Much of the product safety system was devised in 1987 when The Terminator was still out on Betamax. Now we want to make sure artificial intelligence and robotics are working for us and not against by making the UK a world-leader for both safety and cutting-edge innovation.”

Leigh Day partner Jill Paterson said:

“As a product safety team that encounters failures in product safety regulation every day, we are absolutely ready to submit evidence in answer to this call and will do so immediately.

“This review and refresh is long overdue and we can immediately point to gaps in regulation that need to be closed as a matter of urgency."

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Jill Paterson
Inquests Personal injury Fire Medical devices

Jill Paterson

Partner in the product safety team with particular experience in fire appliance injury claims.

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