Are the courts adept at handling complex product liability claims? Are cases heard by a judge or jury?

Product Liability

India Small Flag India

In incidents such as that involving Volkswagen (discussed above), the court relied on a report by an expert committee to better understand the damage / loss caused and corresponding quantum of compensation payable. In the J&J faulty hip implant incident, the Government pro-actively established committees to examine and evaluate the extent of damage caused and the compensation payable to patients who had received faulty hip implants manufactured by J&J. When the quantum of compensation was sought to be challenged before the Supreme Court through public interest litigation, the Supreme Court refrained from interfering with the action taken by the committee formed by the Government. Therefore, recent judgements as detailed above and related jurisprudential developments indicate the ability of Indian courts to handle increasingly complex and multifaceted product liability claims.

Cases are adjudicated by judges as the jury system was abolished in India in 1974.

Japan Small Flag Japan

As there is no jury system for civil procedures in Japan, all cases are heard by one or three professional judges who have passed the Japanese bar exam. A chief judge will have extensive experience as a judge and will be well trained. Also, it will generally take more than one year, possibly even two or more years, to receive a decision in the first instance. As such, fact finding is generally precise.

Turkey Small Flag Turkey

Turkish Courts are sufficient to meet the complex product liability claims, in order to adjudicate in most fair way, the courts receive expert examination more than once if needed. These experts are generally academics who are selected from world-renowned Turkish Technical Universities. Besides that, Code of Civil Procedure allow parties to take an expert opinion and if requested, parties’ expert may ask question to the court-appointed expert at the hearing.

The Turkish Civil Court system does not utilize a jury system. Instead, a judge or usually panel of three judges resolves the disputes.

South Korea Small Flag South Korea

The most disputed issues in product liability cases are the demonstration of causal relationship between the defect and damage and proving defect in technologically intensive products. Korean courts are experienced in handling various product liability cases across mutliple industry sectors. Cases are heard by a judge, since Korean courts have not adopted the jury system for civil litigation.

Australia Small Flag Australia


Product liability litigation usually commences in the Federal Court of Australia (the Federal Court) or the supreme, county or district courts of one of the states or territories.

The consideration of choice of law questions, the causes of action alleged and the quantum of damages sought will usually determine the forum for a product liability matter. In complex product liability matters this will often be the Federal Court.

Specialist jurisdictions

No formal schemes for particular products exist, except for asbestos-related claims. In New South Wales, the Dust Diseases Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to determine “dust diseases” claims. Similarly in South Australia, the District Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear such matters.

Prevalence of jury trial

With one exception, the trial of civil actions involving claims arising from alleged product defects are heard by a judge sitting alone (as both the tribunal of fact and law). The exception is Victoria; where civil trials before a judge (as the tribunal of law) and jury of four (as the tribunal of fact) are still available. However, they are relatively uncommon.

France Small Flag France

French civil courts are adept at handling complex product liability claims given that they have dealt with product liability claims for many years in a large variety of fields. As such judges have developed an expertise relating to product liability claims.

Cases are heard by professional judges, not juries as juries are not used in civil proceedings in France, except in criminal proceedings relating to the most serious criminal offences.

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

Yes, the courts are adept at handling complex product liability claims. The cases are always heard by a judge. The only cases analysed by a jury in Brazil consist of crimes against a victim’s life intentionally committed.

China Small Flag China

Most PRC courts in major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, have extensive experience in handling product liability claims. Statistics shows that the average product liability cases accepted by a district court in a single year can reach as many as 240 cases.

Most PRC courts also have a tendency to concentrate similar cases in the hands of a few judges. For instance, if multiple parties bring lawsuit against the same producer of product before the same regional court, though class actions are rarely available, the cases would generally be assigned to the same judges. The accumulated experience allows the judges to form a more thorough and uniformed understanding of the products’ technical details and mechanisms.

In response to the development of technology and emergence of new business models, China has also established specialized courts to adjudicate specific types of cases. For instance, in 2018, China established internet courts in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. Disputes arising out of and in connection with transactions conducted through the internet, which otherwise would have been submitted to the various district courts, would instead be uniformly adjudicated by the internet courts. This includes product liability disputes arising out of products purchased online. The idea is again that specialization and collective experience would help improve the courts’ adeptness in handling complex cases.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

The courts in England are very experienced in handling complex product liability cases. The vast majority of civil cases tried in court are heard by a single judge, without a jury (libel and slander trials are the main exceptions), deciding them by finding facts and applying the relevant law.

It is rare, however, for product liability claims to proceed as far as the courts, with most settling in the pre-action stage, or prior to trial.

Germany Small Flag Germany

At least higher German courts usually have the expertise and capacity to handle complex product liability proceedings. However, such proceedings most often last several years and end in a settlement, anyway.

At German courts, one or more professional judges rule in civil proceedings. A higher court composed of several professional judges is usually responsible for product liability claims. In Germany, cases are not heard by a jury.

United States Small Flag United States

Both the United States Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts are well adept at handling complex product liability claims if the claim can properly be removed from state court. If the claim cannot be removed, many Virginia state courts also are well adept to handle these complex cases. As long as properly demanded, juries decide complex product liability claims. See, e.g., Va. Sup. Ct. R. 3:21.

Denmark Small Flag Denmark

Yes, the Danish courts of law are well adept at handling complex product liability claims and are used to do so.

Product liability cases are brought before the ordinary courts, the Maritime and Commercial Court and, in B2B cases, also before arbitration tribunals.

The Danish judicial system is a two-tier system. This means that all cases as an overriding general rule may be reviewed by two tiers: usually a city court with a right to appeal to a high court. In addition, it is possible to apply to the Appeals Permission Board for permission to appeal the case to a third tier so that the case is finally decided in the Supreme Court. City court cases are heard by 1 or 3 judges with the possible assistance of two expert lay judges.

High Court product liability cases are as a general rule heard by three judges or in certain cases by five judges.

In product liability cases, the parties will often request that a court-appointed expert be commissioned, and the court will then appoint an expert to draw up an expert report to be used as evidence in the case. The expert may be summoned to the court for examination.

Russia Small Flag Russia

Russian court practice contains examples of dealing with complex product liability cases, however due to the strict interpretation of the causal link between one’s actions and the occurred losses, consumer litigation in Russia may be considered to not be as complex as, for instance, similar proceedings in the US.

Austria Small Flag Austria

In general Austrian courts are adept at handling complex liability claims.

All civil liability claims are heard by judges. At the court of first instance nearly all civil liability claim cases a heard by one judge. If the dispute matter is valued at more than EUR 100k, each party can request a three-judge panel; however in practice this is exceedingly rare. In case a three-judge panel hears the case, one of the judges is a lay judge (i.e. an experienced businessman).

Updated: April 11, 2019