Extension of Strict Liability to e-Retailers
Journal of European Tort Law 2022
Posted: 16 Jun 2022
Date Written: May 22, 2022
Studies reveal that, in 2020, 73 % of internet users in the European Union (EU) resorted to online shopping. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, online retail sales witnessed a further increase whilst customers adapt to a new mode of consumption. Hence, e-retail business has established a solid foundation for the distribution of goods, and this despite the lack of possibility for customers to inspect them thoroughly for possible defects at the time of the conclusion of the contract. Yet the question of who should bear the costs of accidents that are caused by these goods supplied online by third parties has occasioned surprisingly little discussion among tort scholars. This paper will focus on the question of defining when an e-retail marketplace is to be considered liable for defective goods offered through its services by third-party suppliers. The key themes to be addressed in more detail are: the legal loopholes that leave customers with no legal protection when they purchase goods put into circulation via e-retailers by third-party suppliers (II); the emerging need to fill this gap by means of existing strict tort liability rules, which would create a sufficient legal framework to boost consumer confidence in cross-border online trading (III); and the blurry boundaries of the safe harbour liability exemption regime for e-retailers (IV).
Keywords: e-commerce, online shopping, defect, liability
JEL Classification: K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation