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GCC – 3 Tips for Compliance with Regional Consumer Protection & Product Liability Laws

Published: 08/08/2019

Across the Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), consumer protection and product liability laws vary, sometime greatly, from the more well-known European Union (“EU”) laws. Herein, based on our experience advising multinationals, we provide our top three tips for compliance with regional consumer protection and product liability laws.

  1. Be aware of locally prohibit ingredients and product warranties granted by law;
    1. Product safety and prohibited substance laws in the GCC often integrate unique religious and cultural elements. Understanding where these vary from standards in product’s country of origin will help to avoid unnecessary issues with product registration, importation, and consumer liability.
    2. Further, while a product may be sold with merchant or manufacturer provided terms and guarantees, local laws may impart minimum obligations that go beyond a company’s standard terms. Knowing where the consumer is entitled by law to additional protections will aid to limit consumer complaints and authority investigations.
  2. Understand your liability for defective products and obligations for repairing or replacing them:
    1. Products should be fit for the purpose for which they are sold and reasonably safe. Avoid those design errors that can be avoided and know that warnings may not necessarily provide protection from liability.
    2. Know each country’s reporting timeframes for defective products and recalls. Do not sit and wait. If the regulators become aware of a product defect, which has not been acted upon, a wide range of sanctions are available including business closure.
    3. Product recalls in the GCC are much more elaborate and time intensive than those in the EU; obtaining early counsel is the best way to help ensure compliance with the recall processes.
  3. Keep everyone in the supply chain in the loop.
    1. Regulators will ask for details concerning local distributors and commercial agents and their involvement may be required in respect of product defect notifications or consumer complaints.
    2. Keeping proper records of products sold in each GCC country is of significance in market surveillance and product recalls as well; such details may also be requested by the regulators.

 

Recently, Christina Sochacki and James McMillan of the Al Tamimi and Company Regulatory team, acting on behalf of a global industrial products company and separately, one of the largest global technology corporates, have concluded multijurisdictional product recalls with the regulators in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. As a result of swift, proactive action by both global corporations and Al Tamimi and Company, all consumer laws and regulations in those countries were complied with on a simultaneous basis.

Al Tamimi & Company advises and represents manufacturers, distributors and retailers of consumer products throughout the Middle East. Many brand name companies rely on our experienced lawyers when faced with the challenges of complying with reporting obligations, regulatory investigations, product recall procedures, and civil penalty matters.

Al Tamimi also works with companies to implement compliance programs promoting consumer safety and regulatory compliance. Our presence in 17 office in 9 countries throughout the Middle East allows us to act in-country with product safety authorities and manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

Should you have any questions about product recalls or wish to establish or revise your compliance programs, we would be pleased to support and work with you.