Guest blog: review of “ASEAN product safety law”

Written by: Prof Sothi Rachagan (Vice-Chancellor, Nilal University, Malaysia)
[Prof Rachagan, doyen of consumer law and policy studies in Southeast Asia, has kindly provided the following review of my conference volume co-edited with Chula Uni Prof Sakda Thanitcul, published by Winyuchon (Bangkok) in 2016 in English plus Thai translation, with a version of the introductory chapter available here.]

“ASEAN product liability and consumer product safety law”
Luke Nottage & Sakda Thanitcul (eds); assisted by Angus Nicholas
Ten of the thirteen pieces in this collection were originally presented as country reports at an international conference on “Product Safety and Product Liability Laws in ASEAN” held in Bangkok 28-29 July 2015. The ten country reports are preceded by three introductory pieces.
The first introduces the reader to ASEAN and its commitment to trade and in that context traces the history of how Free Trade Agreements have enhanced consumer protection in Southeast Asia. It then provides an overview of the structure of the book. The second chapter treats of what it terms the “Europeanization” of product liability in the Asia-Pacific Region which is code for tracing the genesis of the consumer and product law under report to the approach of the European Union legislation on the subject. The view is supported by empirical data. The third chapter sets in broad strokes the different issues in the debate as to the optimal product liability regime: the pros and cons of the negligence based and strict liability regimes, the competing claims of the US and the EU models and the impact of the latter in other common law and non-common law jurisdictions. This background facilitates the understanding of the country reports that follow.
This one volume is a convenient collection of data on ASEAN product liability and consumer product safety laws. As could be expected of essays written for an international audience, the essays generally eschew the specialist approach for one that is more general: most provide a description of not just the product liability/consumer law regime but also the legal system within which it operates. But that is not all as some discuss, in some detail, the theoretical and policy issues which mould the specific product/consumer legislation in a given stage. All in all, even as this collection would be a useful starting point for a new comer to the field, it condescends sufficiently to theoretical detail not to disappoint the specialist looking for a quick insight into the state of the law in a particular state.

Author: Luke Nottage

Prof Luke Nottage (BCA, LLB, PhD VUW, LLM LLD Kyoto) is founding co-director of the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL), Associate Director (Japan) of the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS), and Professor of Comparative and Transnational Business Law at Sydney Law School. He specialises in international dispute resolution, foreign investment law, contract and consumer (product safety) law.