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Landmark judgment sends signal to cosmetics industry on regulation of non-surgical products and treatments

Ruling considers responsibility of clinicians for the product and treatment information they give out

Posted on 16 May 2014

The Court of Appeal in Webster v Liddington [2014] EWCA Civ 560 has handed down a landmark ruling sending clear signals to the cosmetics industry about concerns over the regulation of non-surgical products and treatments.

The judgement considered the responsibilities of clinicians in relation to the product literature handed out to patients and consumers. It was held that the clinicians (in the absence of an expressed disclaimer) could be held responsible for the accuracy of the manufactures brochures' content.

The case concerned the administration of Isolagen, a pioneering cosmetic procedure which was marketed as a natural alternative to bovine collagen and botox.

The treatment concerned was marketed as a procedure that would remove wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin. The treatment process involved the removal of a skin sample by the clinician before it was sent to the company which devised and marketed Isolagen to cultivate. The sample was cultured in bovine products and a final product was created ready to be injected into the patient.

The company produced their own brochures and so did the clinicians, based on the information provided by the company. The procedure was allegedly marketed as containing the patient’s own skin cells. However, subsequent testing confirmed that it contained foreign body cells including traces of blood from cow foetuses/bovine products.

It is understood that a product liability action was not pursued as the company manufacturing and supplying the product had gone into administration.  The issue of misrepresentation was considered and the Court of Appeal held that the clinicians had failed to inform patients about the presence of bovine material in the injections which could cause allergic reactions.

Product liability lawyer Meera Lachani says:

“Webster v Liddington highlights the adverse consequences that consumers often suffer when products are placed on the market that are not adequately tested and appropriately labelled and the need for tighter regulation of the cosmetic industry”

If you have been injured after using a cosmetic product we advise you to immediately seek medical attention, providing your healthcare consultant with details of any such products that you feel could have caused you harm. It is important that you bring this to their attention to enable them to consider the appropriate remedies for you.

The product liability team at Leigh Day is ranked 1 in The Legal 500 and is described as “outstanding in the field of product liability’.  If you are considering a claim and would like to speak to a member of the team about bringing a claim related to a cosmetic product please feel free to contact us 020 7650 1200 for a free and confidential consultation. If you prefer please fill in our enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you shortly.