On September 10th, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) completely changed1 the longstanding interpretation of what constitutes an article under the European Union’s (EU) REACH Regulation2 . Doing so clarified a conflict with respect to the definition, while placing an unprecedented burden on producers of complex articles.
Under the revised so-called “French Rule,” or the “once an article, always an article” definition, the entire supply chain must re-evaluate their respective regulatory compliance programs. This ruling has a significant short and long-term impact on supply chains, as companies must now analyze the chemical composition of their components and declare the existence of controlled Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) at a much deeper level.
This will require a fundamental change in how companies define articles and determine respective SVHC communication requirements.
What are the impacts?
REACH requires manufacturers to engage in communication within the supply chain when SVHCs are present in their articles3 . Pursuant to these rules4 , at a minimum, they must provide the name of the substance in question to recipients who are defined as “industrial or professional users and distributors, but not consumers.”
Under this definition, the interpretation of what constitutes an article has substantial implications. Specifically, sub-components that historically would not trigger the “legacy article” definition will likely now obligate importers into the EU to declare the existence of any SVHC that is within any article contained in the finished good above the 0.1% weight over weight (w/w) threshold.
This same information must be available at all levels within the supply chain for any consumer submitting an Article 33 request letter within 45 days of their request, without charge.