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Challenging personal injury claim for exploding mobile phone charger


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Hi

Last year I sold a mobile phone on ebay which was imported from China, I sell these as part of my business. The charger of the phone however is a ce approved charger purchased in the UK

The buyer claims the charger exploded causing personal injury.

They have instructed a solicitor who are currently in the process of gathering evidence and are going to proceed with a county court claim.

I am surprised by this allegation because I have supplied a safety approved item and the fact also remains the charger used could be any charger.

I have not yet instructed a solicitor, any advice would be welcome

Many thanks

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Correction, this was sold on amazon. Amazon refunded the buyer with no money deducted from myself and the buyer accepted and kept the item.

I did receive a visit from trading standards who I advised the charger was genuine, not an importa, and not counterfeit as claimed. Trading standards currently have the charger.

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I will try and find someone who can advise.

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Hi only

 

I take it that you have receipts / invoices relating the purchase of the charger in the UK.

 

You need to 'nail down' the charger purchased and sold. If it's been swapped would you be able to tell?, i.e. serial number etc.

 

Also, your supplier has responsibility here, if it's the one supplied to you, that you sold.

 

The legal guys will be along soon.

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Unfortunately I do not have recipiepts for.the charger. The phones I sell usually come with eu chargers but I came accross a large quantity of blackberry chargers with a job lot purchased at a police auction.

This stock comes from high street retailers and both the packaging and product gave no reason for me to believe they were not legitimate and safe.

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Surely, if they weren't safe the police should not have auctioned them off, but destroyed them.

 

One of Trading Standards remits is to advise local businesses. You could contact your local Trading Standards for advise.

 

You can prove that you bought them from a Police Auction?

 

Unfortunately I do not have recipiepts for.the charger. The phones I sell usually come with eu chargers but I came accross a large quantity of blackberry chargers with a job lot purchased at a police auction.

This stock comes from high street retailers and both the packaging and product gave no reason for me to believe they were not legitimate and safe.

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I don't know. They were part of a job lot of many other items. My main concern is how I go about defending this claim and where I stand rather than questioning the responsibility of the sellers of the chargers.

As we all know a charger can explode whether it is genuine or not.My concern is am I liable here and can it be proven in a court?

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The legal guys will be along soon.

 

I don't know. They were part of a job lot of many other items. My main concern is how I go about defending this claim and where I stand rather than questioning the responsibility of the sellers of the chargers.

As we all know a charger can explode whether it is genuine or not.My concern is am I liable here and can it be proven in a court?

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For now I would just write back stating that liability is denied, that the charger sold was an approved charger with no known defect and that you require proof as to the cause and extent of the injuries.

 

 

As a business you are covered by the Sale of Goods Act and liable if the charger was not 'satisfactory quality', i.e. defective. Even so I think it would be difficult for them to prove that the injuries were caused by the charger. I think they would also have to prove that the charger was faulty in some way - I am no expert but presumably these things don't just randomly explode for no reason.

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Untill they have an enginieers report stating the cause of the fault then there is not a lot to do other that to deny liability. A couple of points though:

 

You purchased the chargers from an auction, so they are of unknown parenthood; did you get any of them tested?

 

The police nor any auction house as far as i am aware will perform tests to check that products are safe, otherwise car auctions would have gone to the wall years ago.

 

My guess will be that if they get a report on the charger it will come back that its a fake, CE stickers and the such are easy enough to get applied in factories in China and mean nothing, if this does happen you will be glad to have buisness insurance (I do hope that you do)

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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Untill they have an enginieers report stating the cause of the fault then there is not a lot to do other that to deny liability. A couple of points though:

 

You purchased the chargers from an auction, so they are of unknown parenthood; did you get any of them tested?

 

The police nor any auction house as far as i am aware will perform tests to check that products are safe, otherwise car auctions would have gone to the wall years ago.

 

My guess will be that if they get a report on the charger it will come back that its a fake, CE stickers and the such are easy enough to get applied in factories in China and mean nothing, if this does happen you will be glad to have buisness insurance (I do hope that you do)

 

Unfortunately I do not have business insurance and neither were any tests taken out on the chargers other than checking each one worked.

I also sell a number of used items online, does this also mean that for every electrical item that fails the seller is liable?

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Do you have any liability insurance to cover you? If so pass this to them immediately.

 

I imagine the Claimant's claim will be brought under sections 2 and 3 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Might be worth a read...

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/43/contents

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Do you have any liability insurance to cover you? If so pass this to them immediately.

 

I imagine the Claimant's claim will be brought under sections 2 and 3 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Might be worth a read...

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/43/contents

 

No i have no liability insurance. I was only operating as a small sideline working from home but in hindsight I know now it still would have been worthwhiLe!

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Basically, yes you will be liable. If you had a supplier then you would then counterclaim onto them but in your situation the buck will stop with you, for this and any future claim.

 

Are you trading as a limited company?

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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Trading Standards are involved, because there is a product safety issue, they will want to know the source of the stock.

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Basically, yes you will be liable. If you had a supplier then you would then counterclaim onto them but in your situation the buck will stop with you, for this and any future claim.

 

Are you trading as a limited company?

 

I am a VAT registered sole trader

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I am a VAT registered sole trader

 

Not the answer that i was hoping for, as s sole trader you personally have unlimited liability,

 

If you have any of these chargers left hold on to them and do not sell anymore untill you see how this is gonig to pan out, also I suggest you consider the origions of the rest of your stock; anything else that could be dodgy? and don't just rely on the sticker.

 

On the CE issue there are two CE's floating around, one defines that is conforms to the european standard and the other means its China Export, they look quite alike but sadly dont mean the same.

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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Not the answer that i was hoping for, as s sole trader you personally have unlimited liability,

 

If you have any of these chargers left hold on to them and do not sell anymore untill you see how this is gonig to pan out, also I suggest you consider the origions of the rest of your stock; anything else that could be dodgy? and don't just rely on the sticker.

 

On the CE issue there are two CE's floating around, one defines that is conforms to the european standard and the other means its China Export, they look quite alike but sadly dont mean the same.

 

Thank you and everybody else for the useful information.

So what would be the likely outcome of a court case, ie payout or settlement. They claim they suffered dizziness from the shock, had to call an ambulance and had to

Stay off work 3 weeks. Although there is no actual physical injury.

The firm representing say they will seek to recover costs for medical tests and testing of the charger. What sort of figures are we looking at and would it be wise to settle before going to court? Is there any defence I could have in this case?

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3 weeks off work; that must have been one hell of a shock.

 

Personally i would wait to see how this unfolds, at the moment we do not even know that it was your charger that was at fault rather than just the weak point in the chain. Once you see some movement from either trading standards or the clients solictors then it may be time to meet with a lawyer.

 

If they go for a personal injury claim that will initially try to claim for everything including mental distress to the cat and loss of their paper round; this is where a lawyer will be able to advise you better.

 

Defense it limited because in all fairness you have failed to act in a "reasonable" manner i.e selling un-tested product, not knowing its heritige etc. In the long term there is no such thing as a fast buck.

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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Yes they have already mentioned mental distress. They have sent pics of the exploded charger and trading standards have ended their investigation.

Trading standards only got involved to give guidelines on the safety requirements and gave me some good advice.

It is almost a year now since the incident and after writing to me a few times the solicitors say they are now about to file a case.

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Once you have recived your claim it would be advisable to speak to a lawyer to help put a response together, but potentially the claim could go into the £10k's if they can prove it.

It is easier to enter a rich man than for a camel to pass a needle

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Thank you and everybody else for the useful information.

So what would be the likely outcome of a court case, ie payout or settlement. They claim they suffered dizziness from the shock, had to call an ambulance and had to

Stay off work 3 weeks. Although there is no actual physical injury.

The firm representing say they will seek to recover costs for medical tests and testing of the charger. What sort of figures are we looking at and would it be wise to settle before going to court? Is there any defence I could have in this case?

They haven't proved anything yet! The 3 weeks does sound excessive and should be backed up by proper evidence.

 

If they can back up what they are saying then it is always worth considering a settlement. Might be worth getting a solicitor on board if a claim is filed.

 

In the meantime you need to do your own research on how/why chargers might explode. I'm no charger expert but I am a bit sceptical about the suggestion that this happens all the time. We are only speculating that the charger might have been a fake so it is worth getting other stock tested. If the charger turns out to be genuine perhaps you could point to some sort of contributory negligence if this person did something silly? I think this would need an independent expert to help the court unravel so you might want to think about trying to find an appropriate expert.

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