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Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s product liability regime is quite well-established and systematic. Since its legal system is based upon English law, the product liability regulatory system is comprised of both statutes and common law. Product liability can therefore arise in contract, tort and/or breach of a statutory duty.

For information on litigation and regulation in mainland China, visit our China page.

Litigation       

A consumer is entitled to damages if the seller has breached an express or implied term of the contract. Strict liability is imposed on the seller if the consumer can prove that contract terms have been breached. A consumer can bring an action for negligence against the manufacturer or supplier of defective products when its conduct falls below the standard of care expected at law. Tort liability is fault-based and the liability is extended not only to the buyer, but also to the other end-users who come into contact with the purchased goods.

Civil court procedures are mainly based upon English law. There is no class action procedure and all product liability claims remain individual actions in their own right. Interested parties can, however, apply to have similar product liability actions consolidated or heard together in court.

Although there are not many high profile product liability cases, the situation is likely to change in future. There has been an increasing awareness of consumer rights and a strong trend towards product liability. There has also been an increasing awareness of, and emphasis on, product safety and the remedies available to consumers through legal actions. 

Regulation      

Various ordinances and regulations impose criminal liability for unsafe products on manufacturers, retailers or suppliers. The main governing statute is the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance (the Ordinance) which requires manufacturers, importers and suppliers of consumer products to comply with a general safety requirement and any approved standard that applies to that product. The Ordinance also imposes criminal penalties for a breach of safety requirements.

Besides the imposition of criminal liability for unsafe products, the statutes also deal with their recall. For example, under the Ordinance and the Toys and Children’s Products Safety Ordinance, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise has the power to serve a recall notice requiring the immediate withdrawal of any consumer goods, toys or children’s products which he believes to be unsafe and may cause serious injury. 

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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.