By Michael Green and Glen Jeffries

The recent judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) clarified the definition of “article” under the REACH Regulation 2006 ((EC) No 1907/2006).

REACH is a regulation that concerns the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals in the EU and REACH ensures that chemical manufacturers and suppliers that are producing and distributing “articles” categorised as “substances of very high concern” (SVHC), are obliged to notify the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and provide recipients with sufficient product safety guidance.

REACH defines an article as: “an object which during production is given a special shape, surface or design which determines its function to a greater degree than does its chemical composition”. Both the European Commission and the ECHA confirmed their position that the concentration of a SVHC had to exceed 0.1 percent in the entire article for obligations to apply. Therefore, it was the Commission and the ECHA’s view that the obligations applied only to a complete product and not the constituent parts of that completed product.

The recent ECJ decision, in relation to the disputed definition of an “article”, has essentially lowered the threshold at which the relevant obligations kick in, reversing the position held by the ECHA.