NSW Commercial Law and Imported Products - Will I be Liable for Damages?

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1 September 2015
I am about to open online shopping store. My main products will be imported from oversea such as UK, Singapore, HongKong and China. They are electronic toys, e-cigarette, clothes and other consumable goods such as e-juice, dry food.

My question is:

- While I am not the maker of products, just reseller/distributor, if the products cause negative effects to customers who purchased from my store, will myself or the origin maker be involved in this?

- When I import good from oversea, which document I need from suppliers to protect myself in terms of quality, safety for use?

- Where is the best place of find resources of importing, distributing commercial law..?



Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Hi Franklin

Firstly, Austrade is a great source of information on exporting and importing products. They have a helpline you can call for free advice, as well as lots of information on their website: Austrade, Australian Government - Austrade

For legal advice specific to your situation though, you may need to get in contact with a lawyer who specialises in commercial law.

I believe your first question is around product liability. Your liability in regards to the products in the hands of the end user will come down to the wording in your Terms of Trade/contract of purchase with the supplier (which should set out who is responsible for defects, damages etc and what type of insurance each party is to hold), as well as the Consumer Guarantees set out in the Australian Consumer Law. You will find some info on these guarantees and other obligations you will have as a seller here: Consumer guarantees | ACCC You should also speak with an insurance broker who can advise the types of insurance you may need to operate your business.

In terms of paperwork etc from the supplier, this will be dependent on the type of product you are purchasing and the type of certification of standards that are usually required for that class of product. If you are going to make a business out of this, it's important you are familiar with what these certifications and standards are. It's also important to remember that each country may have different standards for a product, so something that is legally compliant in one country may not necessarily be compliant to sell to an Australian consumer. I am not aware of what products you intend to sell, but you may want to find some industry websites pertaining to these particular classes of products.

It will also be important to ensure you are properly covered in your Terms of Trade/contract of purchase with your suppliers in terms of the warranties, guarantees and levels of quality of the goods they supply. This is probably an area you should seek legal advice on as the exposure for you here could be quite significant and it's important to start your business out on the right foot.

I hope this has provided some help at lease.

All the best.


Hi Franklin,

Under the Australian Consumer Law, both manufacturers and retailers are liable to consumers. If you are a reseller of the products you will most likely be exposed to liabilities of the sort described by AnnaL above.
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Kate Cruz

7 September 2015
Importers are required to provide the quality and safety of every product they import. Testers should be ensured by NATA or JAS_ANZ