Liability for products and services in the context of circular economy and emerging digital technologies
PhD student: Mr Van Gool
Promotor: Mrs Prof E. Terryn
Duration: 10/1/2019 - 31/12/2022
Circular economic business models such as repair, reuse, access-sharing or product-as-a-service, are increasingly present in the consumer sector. A simultaneous trend is the growing use of technologies such as internet of things, artificial intelligence, automation and 3D-printing, which merge digital and physical realities. Both evolutions enable each other, often lead to so-called servitisation and challenge the current legal framework. The latter is especially true for liability law, which is essential to protect consumers and bystanders against physical and property damage resulting from products and services. The doctoral research project first aims to analyse how current liability law applies to these new technologies and business models in B2C- and C2C-contexts. The working hypothesis is that both trends pose difficult questions, in particular regarding the material and personal scopes of specific product liability regimes such as the Product Liability Directive, but also regarding causation, available defences and basic distinctions underpinning economic liability law, such as between professionals and consumers or between products and services. In a comprehensive approach, the project will also examine national extra-contractual and, to the extent relevant, contractual liability regimes, and will also look to the impact of alternatives to liability law, such as standards, insurance or soft law. Subsequently, the project will evaluate the fitness of the current framework, which may ultimately result in normative recommendations. In researching liability law for a new consumer economy, the project shall not only be guided by traditional principles of liability law and consumer protection, but also consider innovation and sustainability objectives.