Manufacturer and Importer Responsibilities

Manufacturers have responsibilities relating to the products they produce.  In particular, they must comply with statutory consumer guarantees and "express warranties" (i.e. warranties over and above statutory consumer guarantees).

Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), importers of goods are also responsible for consumer guarantees if the manufacturer of the goods does not have a place of business in Australia.

What are manufacturers, importers and suppliers guaranteeing?

A manufacturer (or importer if appropriate) and the supplier are both responsible for guaranteeing that the goods produced and supplied:

  • are of acceptable quality (i.e. they are safe, durable and defect free);
  • are acceptable in appearance and finish;
  • do the job that they are usually used for; and
  • match any description given to the consumer.

In addition, the manufacturer and supplier also guarantee that they will honour any express warranties. 

Manufacturers must take reasonable steps to provide spare parts and/or repair facilities for their products within a reasonable time after purchase.  However, manufacturers do not need to provide this guarantee if they advise consumers in writing at the time of the purchase that they will not be guaranteeing the availability of spare parts or repair facilities in future.

More information on the responsibility of manufacturers and importers can be found from the Department of Commerce.

Remedies available to consumers

What remedies are available to consumers when a statutory consumer guarantee OR an express warranty is not met?

The remedies available to consumers when a business (manufacturer, importer or supplier) fails to honour an express warranty in a reasonable time, or at all, are:

  • take legal action to enforce the warranty;
  • seek compensation for consequential loss due to the failure to meet the express warranty;
  • assert their statutory consumer guarantee rights under the ACL;
  • seek compensation from the business for any 'reasonably foreseeable' loss suffered due to the failure to meet the consumer guarantee.

However, the business (manufacturer, importer or supplier) is not responsible for providing remedies to consumers whose product is broken due to their own act, default or omission.

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What does reasonably foreseeable mean?

There is no standard definition of "reasonably foreseeable". In terms of whether a loss suffered by a consumer is reasonably foreseeable will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident which led to that loss. For example, a consumer purchases a toaster, which turns out to be faulty. The toaster catches on fire when it is used for the first time. As a result, the kitchen curtains catch on fire, spreading the fire throughout the kitchen causing significant damage. The question of whether the consumer can claim compensation for the damaged kitchen will depend on whether this loss was reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances.

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What's next....

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