Electrical Contractors are at the front-end of legal accountability when confronted with the consequences of installing ‘non-compliant’ product.
The IET Wiring Regulations states that “Every item of equipment shall be selected and erected so as to allow compliance with the regulations…” in the event of failure, or where it is subsequently found that ‘non-compliant’ has been installed, whether deliberately or by accident, then the installer will be liable either as a breach of contract or for failure to comply with the BS7671 Regulations.
Deliberate use of non-compliant product may also invalidate policies of insurance. Insurers insist that compliance with the law and a full disclosure of risk is made before assuming a financial obligation to the insured.
Under the English legal system’s doctrine of privity of contract, installers cannot, without a subsidiary agreement, usually side-step a customer’s claim for non-compliant goods to be replaced and to deny a claim for consequential losses and compensation.
When installed product is difficult to access or subject to 24/7 usage the costs involved can heavily outweigh any benefit gained by the initial cost savings.
Purchasing from a reputable manufacturer, and ensuring the product that you purchase complies with the Electrical Safety regulations, is the best way to protect yourself and your business from these risks.
Electrical contractors buying and installing electrical equipment should understand their legal obligations, and there are many obligations the law will put on them.
Principally, a contractor is legally liable for the services he provides under contract for six years, from completion of the works. Faults in the supply of non-compliant product will become evident long before this time period has elapsed. Contractors may not, through insolvency or criminal intent, have the luxury of returning goods for refund or replacement and may have to source new, better compliant products from legitimate sources. Where goods cannot be matched by appearance and the aesthetics of a completed installation is a factor of design selection then the contractor could conceivably be required to replace all goods whether defective or not.
If you purchase electrical equipment from overseas you will be classified as the equipment importer and have the added obligation of ensuring the equipment is designed, examined and tested to be electrically safe. This testing includes materials flammability and strength, high voltage, product ageing, high current, over current, product marking and dimensional requirement tests.
You can minimise your risk by asking your equipment suppliers for proof of compliance and keeping compliance records.
If you import electrical equipment, or fabricate goods for immediate installation then you take on the added burden of testing and or certifying compliance with the regulations or attempting to disclaim any sort of legal liability. The harm to business is clear.
Buying equipment from UK based companies, who only sell accredited, tested product, removes the risks associated with non-compliant materials.
Installing counterfeit goods infringes on intellectual property rights.
You should avoid suspected counterfeit goods and report suspected counterfeiting.