A US court found that Amazon is not liable for selling a defective lamp that started a house fire. Amazon’s only connection with the lamp was allowing it to be advertised on its website and stored in its warehouse and it processed the transaction.

Amazon compared itself to a mall owner. Ownership of the lamp passed directly from the light company to the purchaser and Amazon was not a seller. The claimant’s argument that Amazon was responsible for the safety and authenticity of goods sold through its site failed and the claim was dismissed.

Under section 61 of the South African Consumer Protection Act 2008 this would be a defence for a distributor or retailer of defective goods (if it is unreasonable to expect them to have discovered the unsafe product characteristic, failure, defect or hazard having regard to that person’s role in marketing the goods to consumers).

[The case is Eerie Insurance Company v Amazon.com, Inc. US District Court Maryland, case number 8:16-cv-02679 (a subrogated claim)]