26 October, 2022
On 31 August 2022, the Office for Product Safety and Standards ("OPSS"), the UK's product regulator, published its Product Regulation Strategy 2022 - 2025 (the "Strategy") which aims to modernise the UK's regulatory framework to protect customers, the environment and bring it up to date with modern markets, which will consequently have an effect on the way that manufacturers continue their operations.
The Strategy first considers product regulation in light of the UK's objective to achieve net-zero by 2050. OPSS makes a number of observations on how a change in product regulation may help to achieve this target, including by supporting businesses in moving towards more environmentally friendly sources of production and distribution, supporting product repair, reuse and recycling and improving the sustainability of operations.
Additionally, product regulations will need to be updated in line with the changing markets (e.g. the growth in online sales), supply chain disruptions and the associated cost of living pressures. OPSS is looking to establish an approach that is proportionate, innovative and forward thinking that looks to protect consumers from unsafe goods.
The second section of the Strategy focuses on enforcement of the appropriate product safety regulations and simplifying the regulatory framework.
OPSS will set clear expectations for businesses in relation product safety and will hold businesses responsible for any non-compliance with product safety regulations. In addition to enforcement of regulatory obligations OPSS will actively support and assist businesses in complying with regulations and work to co-ordinate local and national regulation (particularly in relation to enforcement, hallmarking and construction products). However, in order to adequately regulate the needs of customers, it will first engage with customers to identify their needs and respond to them.
With clearer expectations, it will be easier in future for businesses to ensure that they comply with regulatory guidance, and ensure that any terms are up to date with current laws and regulations.
The last section of the Strategy concerns OPSS's structure, funding and accountability. The OPSS aims to implement recommendations of the National Audit Committee and the Public Account Committee by summer 2023.
Over the next couple of years we will likely see more of a focus on green manufacturing and product development, as the Government, businesses and consumers all work towards achieving the UK's net zero target. In order to achieve this, regulatory reform will be required to promote more sustainable manufacturing, production and distribution models, to bring the legislation up to date with modern methods of trading and make it easier for businesses and consumers to understand.
Despite the current energy crisis, manufacturers must remember their obligations to reduce carbon emissions and find more sustainable ways of operating, even if this requires a higher initial cost to the business. With all these changes, manufacturers and importers may find that they need to update their documentation and standard terms of business, so that it is clearer, concise and complies with any changes in regulations, to prevent any compliance issues arising or any issues with consumers and/or businesses.
Our solicitors are experts in drafting terms and conditions amongst various other contracts and can help manufacturers to update their terms and conditions or other contracts in line with any change in regulatory framework.
For more information contact John Pickervance in our Manufacturing & Engineering department via email or phone on 0333 207 1134. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
Learn more about our Manufacturing & Engineering department here