Product liability law

Product liability law deals with the civil liability of manufacturers for the products they market.

In product liability law, the liability of manufacturers for products arises, on the one hand, from the general regulations of tort law, so-called “producer liability”. The manufacturer of a product is subject to traffic safety obligations; before bringing a product onto the market, he must thoroughly check whether there are any dangers arising from the use of the product. Liability therefore follows from Sections 823 ff. of the Civil Code. Case law has developed case groups in product liability law for tortious producer liability: design errors, manufacturing errors, instruction errors, product observation errors. In product liability law, relief for the manufacturer is usually only possible in the case of manufacturing defects, provided the manufacturer proves that it was merely an “outlier”.

On the other hand, the legislature created the Product Liability Act, which serves to implement an EU directive to standardize product liability law at the European level. In contrast to tortious producer liability, liability under the Product Liability Act is independent of fault. However, the Product Liability Act contains several exclusions of liability for the manufacturer, see Section 1 II ProdHaftG, and contains some weaknesses compared to tortious liability in product liability law (e.g. a maximum liability limit or a deductible in the event of damage to property).

In product liability law, not only the producer himself, but also the quasi-manufacturer, the importer from third countries or the supplier come into consideration, see Section 4 ProdHaftG.

Zu den zentralen Themen im Produkthaftungsrecht gehören unter anderem:

  • Decentralized evidence of exoneration in product liability law
  • Product defect case groups
  • Scope of liability (damages, compensation for pain and suffering, etc.)
  • Recall of products
  • Organizational fault
  • Reversal of the burden of proof in product liability law


On the following pages we will try to provide you with as much information as possible about the basic principles of product liability law.

We also recommend the following pages on product liability law