UK EUTR enforcement measures confirmed
Remedial action notices, fines, seizure of products and imprisonment

EUTR defra consultation on enforcementThe Statutory Instrument The Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2013” [SI 2013/233] was laid before parliament at the end of last week will enter into force in the UK as planned on 3 March 2013, the same date that the EUTR comes into force across the EU.

A copy of the UK government's response to the consultation on the Regulations is now published on line and can be found here.and more information on the consultation here.  It is worth reading in order to understand the enforcement approach that the UK authorities will take.  For example, the government's  answer to one question posed in the consultation is worth noting.

Question - Can illegally harvested timber be seized from traders? If so, isn’t this unfair to traders who will lose out financially despite not being responsible for placing the timber on the market?   (Traders are not subject to the EUTR due diligence process as they do not first place the timber/timber product on the EU market).
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Government response - The draft regulations allow for timber to be seized where an inspector has reasonable grounds for believing that it has been illegally harvested. The seizure of illegally harvested timber could be from the premises of traders as well as operators. Traders can minimise the risk to their business by (a) exercising greater vigilance when making purchasing decisions, (b) exploring insurance options to protect themselves against such events and (c) ensuring that contractual arrangements allow them to take legal action against the company that sold it the illegal timber for breach of contract to recover costs.  Limiting seizure powers to “operators” would reduce the ability to take effective enforcement action, for example when illegal timber has been passed quickly down the supply chain.

Penalties
Apart from seizure, the key offences of placing illegally harvested timber on the EU market, and failing to comply with due diligence requirements, the maximum penalty available will be two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

A lesser maximum penalty of a £5000 fine will be applied to the lesser offences of: failing to comply with a notice of remedial actions, obstructing an inspector, and failure of operators and traders to keep specified information and make it available to the competent authority on request. These penalties may apply on each separate occasion of non-compliance.

The effectiveness of the regulations will be subject to regular review and, should there be evidence that the penalties are inappropriate, they could be subject to revision.

What has BFM done and what is it doing?

  • Introductory seminar – September 2012 (supported by the Timber Trade Federation (TTF))
  • Workshop on implementing the EUTR – December 2012 – Jointly with AIS
  • Web site – advice, guidance, including checklists and supplier questionnaires/declarations (members only)
  • Engaged a consultant to provide support to members

In addition to working closely with the TTF, the BFM has also forged partnerships and negotiated discounted rates for member companies with PEFC and the Soil Association.  We are also in close liaison with the Head of Sustainability at the BRC.

For further information contact us.