Japan's New Product Liability Adr Centers: Bureaucratic, Industry, or Consumer Informalism?

Zeitschrift fuer Japanisches Recht (Journal of Japanese Law), Vol. 6, pp. 40-81, 1998

42 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2005

See all articles by Luke R. Nottage

Luke R. Nottage

The University of Sydney Law School; The University of Sydney - Australian Network for Japanese Law

Abstract

This article analyses the establishment and initial operations of Product Liability (PL) ADR Centres set up in the wake of the strict-liability PL Law superimposed in 1994 on Japan's venerable Civil Code. Contrary to some commentary in English, the PL Law is not significantly less favourable to consumers compared to the European Union Directive it was modelled on. Nor was the establishment of the industry association based PL ADR Centres mere bureaucratic informalism, designed to divert PL suits into opaque fora controlled by bureaucratic elites. Rather, the Centres represent industry informalism tempered by growing consumer informalism, in the context of broader shifts in Japanese law and society since the 1990s.

From this vantage point, the article then analyses the patterns emerging from matters being brought before the ADR Centres, drawing on documentary and interview material. Few of the many inquiries are clearly covered by the PL Law itself. Often, more inquiries come from firms and regulators, not directly from consumers. There are very few formal mediations, as opposed to more informal processes. Nonetheless, the Centres already serve positive functions for consumers and other stakeholders, although various structures and processes remain in need of improvement.

Keywords: product liability, alternative dispute resolution, Japan

JEL Classification: K13, K49

Suggested Citation

Nottage, Luke R., Japan's New Product Liability Adr Centers: Bureaucratic, Industry, or Consumer Informalism?. Zeitschrift fuer Japanisches Recht (Journal of Japanese Law), Vol. 6, pp. 40-81, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=837965

Luke R. Nottage (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

The University of Sydney - Australian Network for Japanese Law

Room 640, Building F10, Eastern Avenue
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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