We have been advising for some time that UK REACH will undergo further changes as the new UK chemicals regime beds in during the current UK REACH transition period. Some details are now emerging on the pace and scope of those changes.
Legislative changes on the horizon
The next substantive legislative change will take the form of a fifth UK REACH statutory instrument (presumably to be titled 'The REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2021' ) to be laid before Parliament in Summer 2021. It is understood that the purpose of this particular instrument will be to amend and correct those updates to REACH brought into force by the EU during 2019 and 2020 (such as, 'Implementing Regulation 2019/1692 on the application of certain registration and data-sharing provisions' and 'Implementing Regulation on the duties placed on registrants to update their registrations').
Further, this week marks the start of the 2021-22 Parliamentary session, which will officially begin with a State Opening ceremony on Tuesday 11 May 2021. Those following the progress of the new Environment Bill will be aware that, back in January 2021, the progress of the Bill was further delayed and 'carried over' into the upcoming Parliamentary session (with 'Report Stage' expected to recommence early in the Second Session, and Royal Assent expected during Autumn 2021). The Environment Bill contains enabling powers for a significant overhaul of UK REACH - but Ministers will not be able to exercise those powers under the Bill becomes an Act, probably later in the Autumn.
Apparent flexibility in grandfathering deadlines
As we have previously reported, the deadline by which GB-based businesses with existing EU REACH registrations needed to complete the ‘grandfathering’ process (by providing basic information to the Health and Safety Executive) was 30 April 2021.
Interestingly, the UK REACH guidance published by DEFRA on 'grandfathering' has recently been amended to read: "The deadline has now closed. If you have any queries about late grandfathered registrations, contact the HSE by email: firstname.lastname@example.org". While there is very little information currently available about a 'late grandfathering process', there does now appear to be some flexibility available for those who may have missed the deadline.
'Claim the Lead Registrant' functionality
Finally, it is worth noting that the functionality for claiming Lead Registrant status under UK REACH (within the 'Comply with UK REACH' IT system) was not activated on 1 May, as many will have anticipated following the expiry of the 'grandfathering' deadline. It appears that DEFRA intend to provide a further period of time to substance groups to organise themselves and appoint a Lead Registrant. Further guidance is anticipated shortly.
We are currently assisting a wide range of clients to navigate Brexit and UK REACH-related challenges. If you wish to discuss any of these issues in more detail, do please get in touch.
Simon Tilling, Partner, and Tom Gillett, solicitor.