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Austria

Litigation

Austria has implemented the relevant European Community directives. The principles of product liability are set out in the Product Liability Act and the Product Safety Act 2004.

The Product Liability Act imposes strict liability on producers and importers whose products cause death or injury or damage to property. Only in very limited circumstances can liability be excluded. The burden of proving that the product was safe always rests with the producer/importer.

If the producer or importer cannot be identified, any company which imported and placed the product into circulation can be held liable, unless it provides the injured party with the name of the producer, importer or supplier within a reasonable timeframe. 

Regulation 

The Product Safety Act and the ordinances mentioned therein contain the main provisions on product liability: The Product Safety Act transposes Directive 20001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 3, 2001 on General Product Safety.

Responsibility for supervising the marketing of products rests with each provincial governor, who employs special supervisory authorities. Measures which the competent federal minister can take against marketers or, if it is necessary to avert danger to consumers, against any other person, include:

  • Orders and prohibitions concerning promotional measures for products
     
  • Prohibitions or limitations on marketing
     
  • Withdrawal of products from the distribution chain and, if necessary, their destruction under appropriate conditions
     
  • Recall of products and, if necessary, publication of such recall schemes in suitable media.

Violations of the Product Safety Act are punishable by fines of up to € 25,000 imposed by the district administrative authority or imprisonment of up to six weeks in lieu of payment of an uncollectible fine. Products can also be forfeited. 

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Note past results are not guarantees of future results. Each matter is individual and will be decided on its own facts.