The problems of Adducing Evidence to Prove facts For Negligence and Damage in Product Liability cases

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Shabusale, Webster Dickson
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The paper examines the problems consumers of adulterated food products who may wish to take legal action encounter in adducing evidence to prove facts of negligence and damage. To be successful negligence and damage must coexist. In this study six points have been identified at which problems have been encountered. The point of sale is where the sales person hands the product to the consumer. The evidence required is to show that the product was served to the customer in the condition it was produced. The evidence here adds up to prove negligence.Problems at this point have been identified in this study. The Public Health Department of the Local Authority are empowered by Public Health Act to investigate any case of adulterated food. The evidence collected here is to prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer. The food and drugs Act empowers the Public Analyst to receive from Local Authority and analyse the product and give evidence in court. Problems identified here were that though the Public Analyst is able to identify the contaminant he is unable to identify the food product because of lack of specifications which the Manufacturer does not normally release. The Police is another area of evidence. Once reported the Police will investigate the case. The Police interview the Manufacturer, the Complainant and the Sales Person at the point of sale. The police do appear in court to give evidence of their findings. The evidence here goes to prove negligence. Problems have been identified in this paper which make the evidence given by the police ineffective. The next point of evidence collection is the Manufacturer. He is expected to admit that the product in which the contaminant was found was produced by him. It is seen that most Manufacturers will deny that the product was produced by them. Since no one else is able to identify the various products that may be the subject of the complaint this point has been identified as a major drawback in successfully prosecuting the case. Finally the Medical report from the Doctor is the only piece of evidence from the six points that identifies the damage that the complainant could have suffered. The problem with this evidence was that the Doctor is not able state that the particular food item caused the illness and not some other food consumed earlier. The problems consumers face in adducing evidence and their effects are analysed in Chapter four of this study. Chapter five gives conclusions and recommendations.
Consumer Protection - Law and legislation - Zambia , Product Law and Legislation - Zambia