Current issues

New UK legislation proposed for civil drones (small unmanned aircraft):

Draft legislation is set to be published in spring 2018 setting out new rules for civil use of drones. We anticipate users of drones weighing over 250g will have to register their drones and sit safety awareness tests. They could also be banned from flying near airports, or above 400 feet. Police will also be given new powers to seize and ground drones that may have been used in criminal activity. The EU is also debating drone legislation, but this is unlikely to take effect until after Brexit.

UK driverless cars legislation:

The Law Commission has recently announced that it will be starting work on developing laws to promote safe use of driverless cars, to support the UK’s aims to be a leader in autonomous technology, with legislation to be ready as early as 2021. The work is anticipated to consider the issue of liability for accidents involving driverless vehicles.

Consumer products: new EU regulation on gas appliances takes effect:

The new Gas Appliances Regulation takes effect on 21 April 2018. Additional categories of products such as gas fittings will need to be CE marked; risk assessments which take account of foreseeable misuse will be mandatory; there are a number of changes to the essential requirements; and certificates of conformity will need to have a maximum validity period of 10 years. Certification under the new Regulation will be required as of 21 April 2018 for any products not already in the supply chain as at that date.

EU legislative proposals to ensure safe products in the Single Market:

The European Commission has tabled two legislative proposals to make it easier for companies to sell products across the Single Market, and strengthen controls by national authorities and customs officers to prevent unsafe products from being sold to consumers. The draft regulations will now be sent to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. It remains to be seen whether these will be in force prior to the UK’s departure from the EU and therefore whether the UK will adopt them. The proposals also include “soft law” measures such as awareness-raising campaigns on mutual recognition and a mutual recognition rulebook.

Dates for the diary

Spring 2018 Draft drone bill due to be published, alongside proposed amendments to the Air Navigation Order on powers necessary for registration and leisure pilot testing.
21 April 2018 Gas Appliances Regulation (EU) 2016/426 takes effect.
May 2018 REACH registration deadline: applies to companies that manufacture or import substances in low volumes (between 1-100 tonnes a year) and have not yet registered them. This also applies if you manufacture or import a product; it may contain substances that need to be registered individually.
Summer 2018 EU legislative proposals to ensure safe products in the EU Single Market: We should know by the summer when these will be anticipated to come into force so we can understand the Brexit implications on this particular area of legislation and also understand if the “soft law” proposals are on track.