After 10 years practicing in a major international law firm, Sylvie Gallage-Alwis became one of the founding partners of the Paris office of Signature Litigation in January 2019.
With almost 15 years of experience in this field, Sylvie heads the firm's product liability practice. She specialises in all cutting-edge complex disputes linked to products, namely product liability, product safety, toxic tort, mass litigation/class actions, regulatory compliance, and the environment. She is involved in the most innovative pending legal topics for her clients, such as defending them against claims filed on the ground of planned obsolescence or deceit towards consumers. She is involved in the dieselgate litigation as well as in brand new climate change litigation, and the first claim filed against a manufacturer on the ground of the anxiety of developing a disease linked to the chemical substances included in the product.
Sylvie represents her clients against claims filed by consumers, NGOs (consumer protection and environment protection NGOs) and also the market surveillance authorities which are a very active plaintiff in France against manufacturers.
Sylvie is both an Avocat à la Cour in France and a Solicitor in England & Wales. She has been described by Who's Who Legal over the years as a "dynamic and determined litigator", who is "a firm favourite among clients" as "she always goes the extra mile to support her clients, and is proactive in seeking commercial solutions to disputes". Who's Who Legal Thought Leader 2021 acknowledges her as "a star in the international world" and "well-connected expert". She has also been awarded the "Best in Product Liability" award at the 2019 LMG Euromoney Europe Women in Business Law Awards and is listed in this Directory since 2015. In The Legal 500 EMEA 2020 and 2021, France chapter, Sylvie is recognised as the only Next Generation Lawyer for product liability under Dispute Resolution: Commercial Litigation.
Sylvie "stands out in the product liability space for her creative solutions and strategic understanding of the many cases she works on" and represents a variety of globally recognised manufacturers from industries such as the automotive industry, electronic products, cosmetics, new technologies, steel, energy, food, toys, etc.
Sylvie is further known in the French market as a leading toxic tort/mass litigation lawyer. As such, she has been involved in most pro-company case law rendered in recent years, notably in asbestos-related cases, with some cases mentioned in the French Civil and Social Security Codes because of the significant reversal in case law they represent.
Sylvie is an active member of the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) and the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO).
France’s attractiveness: will the International Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal open the door to a new way to litigate in France?On February 7, 2018, were enacted the new rules applicable to the already existing, albeit rarely used, International Chamber of the Paris Commercial Court and the ones applicable to the newly created International Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal
Lack of scientific debate before the French courts: current main disadvantage for companies’ defenseCompanies doing business in France are currently facing a detrimental paradox: while the precautionary principle, which is supposed to be triggered by scientific evidence, is increasingly used against them, scientific debate has disappeared before the French courts as line of defense
What is the most challenging case you have worked on and what makes it unique?
Under French Law, and more specifically the French Social Security Code, "when an [occupational] accident is caused by the gross negligence of the employer […], the victim or his/her beneficiaries are entitled to obtain...
Historically product liability arose from case law based on the general law of obligations, in particular, civil tort liability. It implied a fault of the manufacturer or distributor in the design or manufacture of the product, a loss, most of the time bodily injury, and a causal link between the...