The UK Government has over 10,000 civil servants currently preparing for Brexit. Whilst the terms of Brexit remain uncertain, the Government is nevertheless pushing forward with proposals to make necessary legal changes. Below is a summary of the changes to the UK’s product liability and safety laws that will potentially be implemented on the day of Brexit.
A draft statutory instrument amending UK product liability and safety laws has been put before Parliament for approval. The ‘Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019’ (the “SI“), once approved, is due to come into force on the day of Brexit. A copy is available here.
The SI will ensure that current EU requirements relating to product safety and labelling, as implemented into UK law, are amended in a manner which will apply to products on the market in the UK once the UK is no longer in the EU. The 35 Schedules in the SI set out amendments to each UK law governing particular types of products or risks. Changes to the Consumer Protection Act (the “CPA“) and the General Product Safety Regulations (the “GPSR“) are also covered. Certain EU obligations are retained and these are set out in Part
5 of the SI.
The amendments mean that the expected shift in scope and process so that product safety laws in the UK are focused to the UK market and UK consumers will occur. Unsurprisingly, many of the amendments in the SI confirm that references to the “EEA” and “Member State” are to be replaced with references to the “UK”.
The following proposed amendments are noteworthy. Specific changes that apply to particular product groups (e.g., machinery, radio, pressure equipment etc.,) can be reviewed in the relevant Schedule of the SI, a summary of which is below.
The amendments introduced by the SI are not controversial and largely follow an ‘EU format’ but with a UK focus. That said, changes to compliance processes will need to be implemented to ensure that UK products have UK markings and the relevant UK guidance and processes are followed where there is a question over product safety.
Given the multitude of legal drafting required for Brexit, it is perhaps not surprising that this SI has yet to be formally approved by the UK Parliament. The amendments, if approved, will take effect on the day of Brexit. Whether this will be in a scenario of a “no deal” or a “deal” is yet to be seen.