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ot corporate liability (was: walker pug mills)

updated wed 27 feb 02


Janet Kaiser on tue 26 feb 02

Vince wrote:
> Garrison Kiellor refers to this as "the age of litigation," and I
agree with
> him. People are ready to sue for the dumbest reasons, and they damn
> SHOULD take responsibilities for their actions when they do
something dumb.
> But the Walker is dangerous as hell, and the manufacturer was liable
> that.

Which got me to ruminating... Although elsewhere around the world we
may think the litigation culture in the USA which tolerates the
dumbest claims a la McDonalds coffee is quite mad, it does have its
compensations. (ohps! unintentional pun). Here in the UK (for example)
there is no such legal phenomena as "corporate liability". Well, of
course there is morally, but not legally. Even if gross negligence can
be proven and people maimed or killed, a company cannot be taken to
court or punished. Only individuals are liable for prosecution, either
by the Crown or victims themselves. I believe that the UK Government
is currently reviewing this in the wake of train accidents which have
been the fault of mismanagement, but that is how things currently

However, any equipment manufactured or sold in the UK has to pass
applicable standards / regulations and various health and safety
tests. Always look for the "kite mark" a sign that all British
Standards have been met. In Germany all manufactured goods, from baby
toys to complicated machinery must meet the demanding DIN German
Industry Norms and I suppose all other European countries have their
own rules and regulations AS WELL AS the applicable trans-European
norms. They are an attempt to harmonise the various national rules
across the whole continent and are reputedly as tough as they come.
The CE emblem must be plainly visible on anything sold within the EU.

We do not yet have anything near the number of court cases claiming
compensation, but that is because litigation is extremely expensive in
the UK. For example, the relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing
are having to raise over three million pounds (US$5 million) to take
the bombers to court in a civil prosecution. The legal system is no
doubt very fair once set in motion, but only those with enough
resources need apply for the help of the courts. Justice? Well, that
seems to be another outdated concept.

Janet Kaiser
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