The High Court of Justice (England and Wales) has upheld an EU ban on the sale of cosmetics products tested on animals. The ban has been in place since 2009, but in 2014 the European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients (EFfCI) brought a case to the high court asking for judicial review to determine the scope of the prohibition.

EFfCI claimed the prohibition applied only when the testing was done to meet the requirements of the EU law, Article 18(1)(b) of Regulation (EC) no. 1223/2009. Thus, if the test was performed either outside the EU or to meet the regulatory or legislative requirements of another country, the sale of such products would not be prohibited under EFfCI’s interpretation.

In March 2016, the Advocate General delivered an advisory ruling recommending the EFfCI’s argument be rejected. The court agreed with the Advocate General and found that manufacturers cannot use animal testing data to support the safety of cosmetics products. The location of where the data is generated does not affect the ban. The court noted that an objective of the regulation at issue is to establish that as a condition for selling in the EU market, a cosmetic product must ensure “a high level of protection of human health, whilst ensuring the well-being of animals by prohibiting animal testing” and that the “regulation must be understood to make that access conditional upon compliance with the prohibition of animal testing.” 

The decision does not result in a blanket ban on any cosmetic testing on animals—it affects situations where the animal testing data is relied on to prove the safety of a product so that it can be marketed in the EU. If the product is tested on animals to provide safety data under other countries’ requirements, those products can still be sold in the EU if the EU’s safety requirements are met by other data not stemming from the animal testing.