Responsibility of dealers and importers of goods bearing a CE mark

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Dealers

The German Product Safety Act (Produktsicherheitsgesetz, abbreviated as “ProdSG”) stipulates that dealers must help ensure that only safe consumer products are placed on the market. If a dealer knows or, based on available information or his or her experience, must know that a consumer product does not comply with the requirements, he or she must not sell it (section 6, sub-section 5 ProdSG). Dealers must report unsafe products to the state market surveillance authorities.

However, the European Court of Justice has ruled that dealers cannot be held responsible for the safe design of a product. Nonetheless, dealers certainly are able to check whether certain documents have been supplied and formalities adhered to. This particularly applies to

  • the CE marking,
  • the EC Declaration of Conformity, which has to be enclosed with, for example, machinery and
  • the instruction manual in the national language.

Importers

Dealers who import products from manufacturers outside of Europe bear full responsibility for the safety of the products if the manufacturer has not appointed an authorised representative and is not available.

Authorised representatives

A manufacturer outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can authorise a representative to act on the manufacturer’s behalf. Authorised representatives are responsible for the safety of the products.

“Quasi manufacturers”

Manufacturers may only affix the CE mark to products if such products meet all of the requirements of the relevant EC directives. If a manufacturer acts in violation of this rule, the state market surveillance authorities can take action against the product and, for example, impose a ban on its sale.

Parties who sell a product under their own brand name are considered to be the manufacturer by third parties, even if they are not actually the manufacturer. In legal terms, these “quasi manufacturers” are treated as manufacturers.

Additional information

Contact

Secretariat DGUV Test
Alte Heerstraße 111
53757 Sankt Augustin
Tel: +49 (0) 2241 231 1467
Fax: +49 (0) 2241 231 841448