A Warning Sign in Falling Dangerous Product Notifications

A leading London law firm sees trouble rather than good news in a sharp drop in the number of "dangerous product" notifications reported in 2011 by member state authorities to the European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products, known as the RAPEX system. The notifications fell by almost 22 percent, from 1,979 reported on the RAPEX website in 2010 to 1,552 in 2011, the firm Hogan Lovells reported March 16.

"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," said Rod Freeman, a partner in the firm's product liability practice. "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."

Hogan Lovells is one of the top-grossing law firms in the world, with about $1.66 billion in revenue in 2011, according to The American Lawyer magazine.

"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," Senior Associate Claire Taylor added."“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."

They noted the European Commission recently published new guidelines to help companies conduct product recalls or other corrective actions to deal with unsafe products. "Corrective Action Guide: Guidelines for Businesses to manage Product Recalls & Other Corrective Actions" was created by PROSAFE (the Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe) in consultation with various stakeholders, and Hogan Lovell worked closely with PROSAFE in drafting them.

"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," said Freeman. "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."

Posted by Jerry Laws on Mar 26, 2012


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