Simplification of UKCA product marking process ‘cautiously welcomed’

Out-Law News | 28 Jun 2022 | 1:16 pm | 2 min. read

Changes designed to make it simpler to apply new product conformity markings for products placed on the market in Great Britain will help businesses to adapt to the new regime, according to one legal expert.

Zoe Betts, a regulatory specialist from Pinsent Masons, said the measures, intended to reduce compliance burdens and duplication, will be “cautiously welcomed by stakeholders,” but added that “businesses may well have preferred a longer transition period to be applied.”

Her comments came after the UK government announced changes to how businesses apply the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark on certain products like mobile phones to indicate that they conform to market rules in England, Scotland and Wales. The new mark covers most goods which previously required the ‘CE’ marking and reverse epsilon markings that are applied to products in the European Union. Use of the UKCA mark became mandatory from 1 January 2022 for relevant products sold in Great Britain. However, to allow businesses time to adjust to the new regime, use of the CE mark will be permitted until 1 January 2023.

Betts Zoe

Zoe Betts

Legal Director

The rules have been perceived as complex and an additional burden on businesses already struggling in the current environment

Ministers said they would consider any conformity assessment activities undertaken by EU bodies before the end of 2022 to form the basis of UKCA marking next year in order to reduce re-testing costs for businesses. Legislation will be laid before the end of the year to enable manufacturers to apply the UKCA mark on products – such as aerosols, pyrotechnics, machinery and toys – without the need for re-testing.

The government will also allow CE marked products that are manufactured and imported into the UK by the end of 2022 to be sold without the need to meet UKCA requirements. This will remove the current need for re-testing and re-certification for products that are imported while the UK recognises CE requirements.

The UK will continue to accept spare parts onto the market in England, Scotland and Wales which comply with the same requirements that were in place at the time the original products or systems they were being used to repair, replace or maintain were placed on the market. Minsters said this will help to address concerns over the availability of spare parts and ensure businesses and organisations avoid disruption to their operations.

The government will also introduce legislation to extend current labelling measures that make it cheaper and logistically easier for businesses to continue supplying goods to Great Britain. The legislation will allow important information and other UKCA markings to be added to products using a sticky label or an accompanying document.

Betts said: “The UK’s departure from the European Union means that product manufacturers and retailers seeking to sell goods in both the EU and Great Britain must meet separate regulatory requirements in each market. Although in general terms there was no change to the technical requirements or the conformity assessment processes and standards to be used to demonstrate conformity for the UKCA, the rules have been perceived as complex and an additional burden on businesses already struggling in the current environment.”

She added: “The government’s announcement follows a consultation with business leaders to understand their key concerns in the transition to the UKCA marking regime. The measures are designed to reduce compliance burdens, minimise duplication and prevent costs that could be passed on to consumers. For these reasons, they will no doubt be cautiously welcomed by stakeholders. However, with supply chain issues only appearing to increase, it is debateable whether the changes will make a significant difference, given the relatively short timescales involved. Businesses may well have preferred a longer transition period to be applied.”