Paul Williams Discusses Product Liability Trends in Roundtable

In a roundtable for Corporate Disputes magazine, Paul Williams reflects on trends in product liability litigation and their effects on companies. "Manufacturers have expressed increasing concerns about how the courts will apply existing product liability laws to new and emerging technologies," he explains. "There is uncertainty over liability for connected, artificial and autonomous technologies—including the Internet of Things, machine-assisted diagnostic tools and driverless vehicles—as well as decentralised technologies that include blockchain and digital ledgers."

Williams highlights the increase in lawsuits under Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act as an example of the potential magnitude of litigation exposures generated by emerging technologies and suggests that the use of drones, manufacturing robots and autonomous vehicles may be targets of high-profile litigation in the future.

Williams notes that early preparation for a product recall is key. "Manufacturers must implement a recall policy and plan, regularly review supply chain contracts, identify an incident management and communications team, train staff, conduct readiness exercises, and ensure that adequate traceability systems are in place," he advises. "Blockchain is one area of new technology that is being explored as a way to provide real-time traceability and transparency in food and medical supply chains to help companies pinpoint and address any issues that might occur on a product's path to the consumer."