On 1 September 2020, the UK government through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, published the New Government Guidance on placing manufactured goods on the Great Britain market from 1 January 2021.
Who should be concerned?
The guidance concerns the distribution of goods on the Great Britain market. A separate guidance has been issued for those who intend to place goods on the Northern Ireland and/or EU market. In this article, we summarise the key points from the guidance and how these may affect your business post Brexit.
The good news is that if your goods have already been placed on either the UK and/or any EU country market prior to 1 January 2021, you will not be required to do anything different or to comply with the new regulations.
Depending on what goods you seek to place on the market, different rules will apply to you. The types of goods are divided into 4 groups:
· new approach goods on which this article will largely be based;
· old approach goods e.g. medicines, vehicles, chemicals, and aerospace;
· non-harmonised goods; and
· others e.g. medical devices, cosmetics, and civil explosives
Why have the guidelines been introduced?
The guidance is aimed at assisting UK economic operators (manufacturers, importers, and distributors) seeking to place manufactured goods on the Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) market to comply with the new regulations after 1 January 2021. The guidance covers the following points:
· use of CE and UK markings;
· conformity assessments;
· legal responsibilities; and
· registration of UK Authorised Representatives.
CE and UKCA markings and Conformity assessments
Currently, the CE mark or any other appropriate mark such as the wheel marking or Pi mark are acceptable as conformity assessment markings. Post 1 January 2021, the UKCA mark will replace the CE mark as the conformity assessment for placing manufactured goods on the Great Britain market. Certain goods, however, will be accepted to use the CE marking until 1 January 2022 beyond which all economic operators must be ready to use the UKCA marking.
Your legal responsibilities
Your ‘economic operator status’ may change post 1 January 2021 and so may your legal responsibilities. If you were a manufacturer before 1 January 2021, there will hardly be any changes in your legal obligations. However, if you are currently a UK distributor and/or supplier, you will need to confirm whether you or your supplier will become an ‘importer’ in the new year.
If someone is already selling a good on the UK or EU market before you sell it in Great Britain, you will remain a distributor for purposes of the new regulations and will not have any additional responsibilities. However, if you are the first one to place a good on the Great Britain market from outside the UK, you will become an importer.
As an importer, you will have to ensure that goods are labelled with your company’s details, the correct conformity assessment procedures have been carried out and the goods have the correct conformity markings, the manufacturer has drawn up the correct technical documentation and complied with their labelling requirements, you maintain a copy of the declaration of conformity for 10 years and the goods meet the relevant essential requirements.
After 1 January 2021, any authorised representatives and responsible people for any of your products placed on the Great Britain market will have to be based in the UK. As such, authorised representatives and responsible people based in the EU will no longer be recognised.
In summary, rules concerning the placement of manufactured goods on the Great Britain market will be changing after the Brexit transition period (expected to end on 31 December 2020) and the government’s guidance summarised above is aimed to make it easier for you to transition to the new system with minimal disruption. We understand that these rules are complex and adopting to them may be overwhelming especially during this period when a lot of businesses are facing financial difficulties due to the global COVID-19 circumstances. The guidance is also subject to continuous changes which means the task to ensure compliance with the new rules is ongoing.
How we can help
Serenity Law LLP has a team of commercial specialists who are well equipped to help you navigate the new changes and their implications on your company. If you would like to obtain any advice or assistance with the new guidance and/or any other Brexit related issues, please do not hesitate to contact our commercial team specialists on 0800 019 7773.