Under Norwegian law, the consumer has a right to complain about a product up to five years after purchase, if the product has an average life expectancy of more than two years. This means that producers' liability in Norway is valid for a longer period than in most of the EU, where the consumers' right to redress expires after two years. SIFO is doing a project for the Norwegian Ministry of Consumer Affairs (BLD), in order to assess if this difference in consumer protection influences product durability in the Norwegian market. Is there a correlation between liability period and product life span, and if so, to what degree? One hypothesis might be that the size of the market is too small (with only 5 million inhabitants) for importers and producers to take national regulation of this sort into account. In order to address these questions, we intend to perform three empirical work packages: (1) A check on how many cases handled by the Norwegian Consumer Council that the complaining consumer could not have raised if the country had had a two-year liability; (2) A survey on consumers' knowledge of their rights; and (3) Informant or stakeholder interviews with a number of importers and producers to figure out if they put extra emphasis on durability in the Norwegian market as a result of the five year liability. We will also build on previous research into product durability, performed at the institute since the late seventies.
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