Electrical Safety First called as expert witness in case against retailer

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The prosecution of a high street retailer – for selling fake charger kits – used Electrical Safety First’s expertise to make its case.

esf-logoBrought by Carmarthenshire Council, the prosecution is the first where an unlimited fine was applied – previously, they were limited to a maximum of £5,000. Together with costs, the retailer will have to pay a total of £190,000. One reason given for the increased penalty was the retailer’s failure to issue a rapid alert recall notice via RAPEX – the European rapid alert system for reporting dangerous products. Not undertaking timely and effective communication with consumers, to alert them to the dangers of the product, was also highlighted by the Judge.

The charger kits, of which 72,000 are known to have been sold in the UK, included adaptors lacking adequate insulation between circuits and loose wiring, which increased the risk of fire or electric shock.

At the request of the court, Electrical Safety First produced a report on the risks associated with the chargers and the charity’s product safety manager Stephen Curtler was on hand to provide expert evidence during the trial.

“The outcome of the case clearly shows that electrical product safety is being taken seriously,” commented Electrical Safety First head of electrotechnical Martyn Allen. “The Judge’s comments, which were highly critical of the recall process undertaken by the company, echo the findings of our major report –Consumer Voices on Product Safety. This raised the need for manufacturers and retailers to do a lot more than stick a notice in the back of a local paper, or retail premises, to engage with consumers.”

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