The OPSS has published details of its enforcement actions during the six months from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021. Actions related to product safety included orders for forfeiture and destruction, compliance notices and the issue of mandatory withdrawal and recall notices. Relevant businesses included businesses based in Great Britain, but also a significant number of online sellers based in China. The data shows that the actions related to breaches of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 and also, in some cases, of specific legislation relating to electrical equipment and toys. In addition to product safety, there was enforcement action taken in relation to heat networks and timber.
Within the EU, there is a current proposal for a new General Product Safety Regulation. The EU Commission states that they intend to adapt the provisions within the EU General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC to “better ensure that all kinds of products are safe, online or in a traditional brick and mortar shop, and that all consumers are protected.” That is, of course, against a backdrop of legislation which was originally devised before online sales of consumer products were common. The revision is intended to ensure:
- the safety of products linked to new technologies as well as on the challenges posed by the growth of online sales;
- ensuring a better enforcement of the rules and more efficient and even market surveillance; and
- improving the recall of dangerous products in the hands of consumers.
Now the UK has left the EU, any new EU legislation relating to general product safety will not automatically apply in Great Britain (although products sold in Northern Ireland must follow EU requirements). However the UK is carrying out a review of its own product safety regime and it is possible that they will adopt a similar approach. Therefore, it is of particular note that the most recent enforcement data shows a continuing trend of activity by OPSS in response to online sales.
This update is part of the February 2022 edition of our frESH Law Horizons newsletter.