The report accepted the 8 key recommendations for reform made by the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety in its report of 19 July 2017:
|Working Group Recommendations
|UK Government’s Response
|1.||Centralised technical and scientific authority to assist businesses and Primary Authority decision-making processes.||Creation of new government office – Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to fulfil this role.|
|2.||Consolidation of guidance on corrective action by way of development of a Code of Practice on effective corrective action programmes (including product recalls), informed by relevant stakeholder input and consumer behaviour analysis.||The British Standards Institution has been working with the drafting group. A Code of Practice will be published on 7 March 20181.|
|3.||A hub to coordinate product safety matters internationally.||The OPSS will have incident management capability and develop and maintain a database on corrective actions.|
|4.||Capture and sharing of intelligence.||The OPSS will establish an intelligence capability to collate relevant information.|
|5.||Develop technological solutions to product marking and identification.||The government will analyse information which it received through the Working Party to assist manufacturers and retailers to consider this issue.|
|6.||Development of Primary Authority Partnerships to increase coordination of activity of local authorities.||The government is working with users of the Primary Authority arrangement to better understand their needs.|
|7.||Consideration of methods to encourage consumer engagement with corrective actions, including via consumer behaviour research.||The government is working with retailers to promote the ‘Register My Appliance’ scheme. The government has been discussing with the National Fire Chiefs’ Council how local fire and rescue services can support the registration of electrical appliances as part of their community fire safety work.|
|8.||Creation of an expert panel comprised of trade associations, consumer and enforcement representatives.||The government is also setting up a technical and scientific panel, to be chaired by the BEIS Chief Scientific Advisor, to ensure access to the latest scientific and technical developments.|
The Government’s response to the Working Group’s Report is the most recent in a series of developments in this area:
- An independent Review of Consumer Product Recall running from November 2014 to February 2016 and led by consumer advocate and broadcaster Lynn Faulds Wood made several key recommendations for the improvement of the product recalls system.
- The on-going Cutting the Red Tape Review, commenced in March 2016, seeks to review local authority enforcement including in the area of product safety.
- Development of the Working Group in October 2016 by Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility Margot James created to assess the findings of that independent review and compromised of relevant experts, continues to consider improvements to the UK recall system and product safety more generally, with a particular focus on consumer engagement, as part of its continuing 24-month plan.
The changes brought about by this report are the first of several which are to alter the product compliance landscape in the UK dramatically. All members of the supply chain should keep on top of this rapidly developing area to ensure their business models and product compliance practices remain cutting-edge and in front of legislative change.
A further post will follow after the Code of Practice is published.
- Rod Freeman, Partner and Head of International Product Compliance and Product Liability at Cooley, was a member of the Steering Committee responsible for the development of the Code of Practice on effective corrective action programs.