CE marking

CE marking is a essential part of the EU’s harmonisation legislation, which is mainly managed by Directorate- General for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. The CE marking for Restriction of Hazardous Substances is managed by Directorate-General for Environment. Comprehensive guidance on the implementation of EU product rules can be found in the so-called Blue Guide; see chapter guidelines.

Liability management

The most important provision regarding product safety, or "Product Compliance", for mechanical engineering companies is the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC and for manufacturers of electrical equipment the Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU. These directives primarily designate two " parties" - the manufacturer and his authorised representative - who are responsible for placing the product on the market or commissioning.

Authorised representative in this sense is only an external representative. This does not refer to authorisations within the manufacturer.

manufacturer according to the Machinery Directive, Art. 2

"any person who designs and/or constructs a machine and is responsible for its conformity with this Directive with a view to its being placed on the market under his own name or for his own use".

Manufacturer according to Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU, Art. 2

"any natural or legal person who manufactures electrical equipment or has electrical equipment designed or manufactured and markets such equipment under his own name or trademark"

Anyone who designs a machine or has a machine designed as a company manager or employee is therefore not a manufacturer, because the machine is then placed on the market not in his name but in the name of the company. The "manufacturer" is therefore the company - a legal entity.

Sanctions based on these regulations are therefore directed at the company, which is usually a corporation, and not at its management. This is also not addressed anywhere in European product safety law. However, this does not mean that there are no duties for top management, nor that top management is not responsible for product safety. In addition to the administrative law enforced by the authorities, managers must take two further points into account:

Responsibility of the management board

The starting point of the responsibility of the company management - e.g. the executive board or the board of directors - is the so-called " universal responsibility". This means that the management is basically responsible for all matters of the company.

Liability management through resort allocation

There is the possibility of horizontal delegation through the creation of business units or departmental responsibilities. CE tasks could, for example, be assigned to the " Engineering" department and separated from Finance, Personnel and Sales. This division of responsibilities must be clear and should be agreed in writing. As regards form, courts require clarity and written form:

The diligence of a prudent Businessperson requires an unambiguous clarification in advance as to which manager is responsible for which area. Consequently, there must be a predetermined and thus at least written division which refers each individual task to the area of responsibility of at least one managing director.