Call for Papers - Product Safety, Consumers' Health and Liability Law: New Challenges Posed by R&D, IT, Constitutions and Integrated Markets



Event Date: 

06/8/17 to 06/9/17

Location name: 

Quebec City

Following national and worldwide consumer product accidents (toys, medicine, cars, etc.), product safety has recently been at the heart of a few important legislative reforms. Canada's Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) and Australia's Competition and Consumer Act (CCA) were adopted in 2010, shortly before, in 2013, the EU Commission adopted a new Package of legislative and non-legislative measures to improve consumer product safety and market surveillance (discussions in EU Parliament are ongoing). To different extents, such legislative measures seek to strike a balance between consumer health and safety protection and increasing global trade liberalization (e.g. CETA, WTO); innovation and precaution; self-regulation by industry and States' command and control legislation. In doing so, legislators heavily rely upon private governance, standardization and public regulators' discretionary powers to authorize, recall, withdraw or restrict product distribution. However, in parallel, they strengthen information transparency, traceability, labeling, post-market duties, incident reporting and test conducting as concrete means to eradicate dangerous products and prevent harm. Whenever prevention fails, product liability may offer victims compensation for sustained damages. This is well-known and documented. By contrast, the contact zone between those two faces of law remains somewhat fragmentally analysed. Is the ex-ante/ex-post dialectic outdated or ever contemporary? How do safety regulation techniques impact on liability law?

THEMES: Although primarily anchored in the field of law, this intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary Conference seeks to highlight the interpenetration of product liability and product safety within, for instance, the evaluation of defect, causation, defenses, regulators' legal boundaries in assessing product safety or the analysis of scientific evidence in the adjudication process. Mainly financed by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (profs. Marie-Eve Arbour & Lara Khoury, coinvestigators), this event aims at advancing scholarly knowledge in the field of Product Safety and Liability Law, and, in parallel, at increasing collaboration between scholars, stakeholders and the judiciary. To this end, potential participants may address the following tentative themes (or others) from a transsystemic/interdisciplinary/intradisciplinary/comparative perspective. Ph.D and Postdoctoral candidates are more than welcome to apply:

I. The Intersection Between Product Safety and Product Liability
- Blurred Legal Categories? The Nature of Product Safety and Product Liability
- Statutory Defence and/or Preemption in Liability Law: the Hierarchical Dimension of Liability Law and Product Safety
- The Risk Development Defense in Light of R&D Protocols
- Market Surveillance and Product Safety Alarm Networks: Shedding New Light on Liability Law
- Perceptions on Safety: Intertwining Deceptive Practices and Liability Law

II. Comparative Legal Responses to Product Safety Disasters
- Recent Legislative Initiatives Surrounding Product Safety (EU, Canada, etc.)
- Legislative Responses to Market Crises: Same Defect, Different Outcomes
- Case Studies: Phablets, Cars, Toys, Cosmetics, Drugs, Tobacco, etc.

III. Integrated Markets, Product Safety and Product Liability Law
- State/Regulators' Liability and Bad Regulation: Successes and Failure
- Free Circulation of Goods and "Consumers Expectations": Clashing Perspectives?
- Legislative Thresholds and Standards: Private Responsibilities?

IV. Product Liability in our Courtrooms: When Science Intermingles with Law
- Is causation in Law Dependent on Scientific Methodology and Conclusions?
- Empowering Experts: Toxicology and Epidemiology in Assessing Causation
- Understating Science? Of Experts and Judges in finding product defects

Partial or total financing will be available subject to participants' needs and commitment to participate in both the conference and to submit their conference paper for publication. Draft papers should be made available for discussion by the end of May 2017, and final papers should be provided to the editors of the publication by sept. 31st, 2017. Publications will be peer-reviewed and published with a respected editor after consultations with authors.

PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Please send a short version of CV/resume or link to a personal web page along with a page-long abstract including title, context, subject, methodology and references, to before December 9th, 2016. Successful applicants will be notified by the scientific committee by Christmas. Participants may present in French, but should be able to interact in English in order to fully benefit from this international network.