The key facts about product liability in the UAE. Prepared in association with STA, a leading law firm in the UAE, this is an extract from The Pharma Legal Handbook: UAE, available to purchase here for GBP 75.
1. What types of liability are recognized in your jurisdiction?
In the UAE, Federal Law No. 24 of 2006 on Consumer Protection (Consumer Protection Law), as amended by Federal Law No. 7 of 2011, is the main piece of legislation relating to product liability. The Consumer Protection Law sets up Consumer Protection Departments on a local level in each emirate which supervise and carry out policies relating to consumer protection, the regulation of competition and the management of consumer complaints (Article 4). Part Four lists the obligations suppliers must comply with and the standards of safety and quality expected of products. This law defines a consumer as a person who obtains a commodity or service for a price or otherwise for his/her own or another person’s needs.
2. How do these types of liabilities apply to the manufacturers of medicines and devices?
Under the Pharmaceutical Law, a medical control and review committee must be formed within the Ministry of Health (MOH). Based on recommendations made by this committee to the Minister of Health, the Minister can prohibit the distribution of medication found harmful to the public. The medication must be deregistered with the MOH, and the medication confiscated and destroyed (with no compensation to be made to the owners or manufacturers of the medication).
Concerned healthcare providers, medical stores, and pharmacies must maintain accurate records relating to the dispensing of medication, and to report any adverse reactions to the relevant authorities as soon as they are made aware of these.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has broad powers to institute track and trace and recall plans.
Noncompliance may incur criminal liability (including potential prison terms and fines) in addition to the above penalties.
3. Does potential liability extend to the manufacturer only or could claims extend to corporate executives, employees, and representatives?
Aside from the manufacturers, licensed pharmacists, doctors, suppliers, and distributors can all be liable for defective medicinal products. These depend on a variety of circumstances, including, for example, failure to report adverse circumstances appropriately, failure to update information or labelling relating to adverse reactions or contraindications.
4. How can a liability claim be brought?
A product liability suit must be brought in tort as envisaged under the UAE Federal Law No. 5 for 1985 (Civil Code). Under the Civil Code, the claimant must bring its cause of action within three years of discovering the harm and the tortfeasor.
5. What defenses are available?
Possible defences include making an appropriate report and liaising with the governmental authorities, and unilateral recall as soon as the product is discovered to be causing harm.