Data Reveals Decline in Number of Dangerous Product Notifications

LONDON, 16 March 2012 – An analysis by Hogan Lovells into the number of 'dangerous product' notifications, reported by member state authorities to the European Commission's RAPEX system, has revealed that numbers plummeted in 2011.

In contrast to the 1,979 notifications published on the RAPEX website in 2010, only 1,552 were reported in 2011 - a decrease of almost 22%.

Rod Freeman, a partner in Hogan Lovells' product liability practice, said:

"This data may be the first sign of a slowdown in the level of product safety enforcement activity by authorities across Europe.  This is a concern for both consumers and legitimate businesses, because properly targeted enforcement action is needed to ensure rogue traders who deliberately bypass safety regulations, and who therefore put consumers at risk, are kept out of the market. 

"The ongoing global financial crisis has hit government resources at all levels, and this is a sign that budget cutbacks across Europe may be starting to undermine objectives to keep EU markets free of rogue traders marketing dangerous products."

Claire Taylor, a senior associate in Hogan Lovells' Product Liability practice, added:

"Having witnessed, for the last eight years, a year-on-year increase in the number of RAPEX notifications, it was somewhat unexpected to see such a significant drop in numbers over the last year.

"The 2010 figures can probably partly be explained by the somewhat unusually large number of notifications that year for clothing and textiles, which was largely the result of specific EU-led initiatives in 2009 targeting products containing DMF, and dangerous cords and drawstrings in children's clothing.

"However, although the number of RAPEX notifications made during 2010 was certainly a record high, the 2011 figures are also lower than those reported in 2009 (1,680 notifications). The 2011 figures do therefore suggest that we are witnessing a slowing down in the trend of dangerous product notifications."

Meanwhile, The European Commission recently published new guidelines to help businesses conduct product recalls or other corrective actions to deal with unsafe products.  The long-awaited, "Corrective Action Guide: Guidelines for Businesses to manage Product Recalls & Other Corrective Actions" offers practical advice to businesses on the steps to take if they have evidence that one of their products is unsafe.

The new guidelines have been prepared by PROSAFE (the Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe), in consultation with various stakeholders. Hogan Lovells, as a business stakeholder representative, worked closely with PROSAFE in the drafting of these new guidelines.

Rod Freeman concluded: "These guidelines have been prepared to provide support to manufacturers and distributors of consumer products in carrying out their practical and legal obligations under EU product safety legislation.  They are important because they will become the primary reference point for businesses when they are trying to undertake consumer product recalls and other actions to deal with dangerous products in the EU."


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