On 26 December 2008, the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment published the European Communities (Prepacked Products) Regulations 2008 (the “Regulations”).
The Regulations transpose Directive 2007/45/EC (the “Directive”). The Directive amends the rules on “nominal quantities" for prepacked products (i.e. the rules that restrict the sizes in which certain products can be placed on the market) commonly referred to as the “range of sizes” legislation.
The rationale underlying the Directive is that, in many sectors, free nominal quantities increase the freedom of producers to provide goods according to consumer tastes and enhance competition as regards quality and price on the internal market. In other sectors, however, it is more appropriate, in the interests of consumers and business, to retain mandatory nominal quantities for the time being.
A broad range of products are currently within the ambit of the “range of sizes” legislation. These products include the following: tea and coffee, dairy products, breakfast cereals, flour, dried fruit, frozen foods, vegetables, malt beer, wine of fresh grapes, sparkling wines, meat and fish, baby food, biscuits, non-alcoholic drinks, polishes, household disinfectants and detergent powders.
Under the new regime, the only mandated sizes for products will be for those wines (still, yellow, sparkling, liqueur and aromatised) and spirits cited in the Regulations.
As a consequence of the Regulations, those orders made pursuant to the Merchandise Marks Act 1970 (which specified the permitted nominal quantities of certain products) will be revoked. This will be achieved by the implementation of the Merchandise Marks Act 1970 (Prepacked Goods) (Marking and Quantities) (Revocation) Order 2008 (the “Order”).
Both the Regulations and the Order will come into operation on 11 April 2009.