Development Risk Defence: Saint or Sinner?

Date: 24/04/2020 CPD: 1 hour Cost: Free Venue: Webinar via Zoom

In this webinar, Charles Dougherty QC explores the ongoing symbolic and practical importance of the Development Risk Defence under the Product Liability Directive and Consumer Protection Act 1987. The defence provides a producer with a defence where he can show that the “state of scientific and technical knowledge at the time when he put the product into circulation was not such as to enable the existence of the defect to be discovered.” Charles reviews the defence and discuss some of the difficult questions which arise, including:

  • what the knowledge has to relate to (including the importance of how the defect is characterised and whether the knowledge has to relate only to the risk generally or to how to identify the defect in the specific product);
  • the extent to which the knowledge has to be accessible (when most information is now accessible online);
  • what does (and doesn’t) count as “scientific and technical” knowledge, and;
  • how liability might still arise even when the defence applies.

Charles is a leading commercial silk who specialises in product liability, insurance and private international law. He is head of 2TG’s Product Liability Group. He is recommended as a leading silk for Product Liability in Chambers UK and Legal 500. ‘“A formidable lawyer.” “Supremely intelligent, he gets to grips with things remarkably quickly and gives very practical advice.”’ (Chambers UK Bar 2020, Product Liability, Band 1).

A recording of the webinar is available below.


Charles Dougherty QC