On 17th January 2023, the industry regulator, the Bar Standards Board decided to hand down an order imposing a ban on a barrister preventing him from continuing to practise after evidence emerged
UK Government Set to Introduce ‘Right to Repair’ Rules in the Summer
What just happened:
In a recent press release the UK government have confirmed that from the summer of 2021 they will introduce right to repair legislation with relation to electrical goods.
What does this mean?
Right to repair was first championed by the EU in 2019. It enables consumers to repair their products themselves, or choose their own repairer as opposed to using the manufacturer.
Essentially, the rules that the EU and UK have introduced aim to increase the life span of electrical goods by up to ten years in response to complaints that goods are not long lasting, nor easily repaired. In addition, the new rules will reduce the waste provided by the UK and save UK consumers an average of £75.00 a year on their bills. It is with the hope that these new laws will increase the efficiency of repair and provide greater consumer care.
How does this impact the legal sector?
The announcement follows a vote in the European Union for stronger right to repair rules. Despite the UK leaving the European Union their manufacturing rules would still need to align with the EU in order to promote and support trade. The UK’s rules will apply throughout Great Britain whereas the European Rules will apply in Northern Ireland only.
The rules are intended to tackle ‘‘premature obsolescence’ – a short lifespan deliberately built into an appliance by manufacturers which leads to unnecessary and costly replacements for the consumer.’ From summer 2021 manufacturers will be legally obligated to create spare parts for their products meaning that they can be more easily repaired by consumers. The Government have also highlighted that this will result in less products being scrapped, leading to a reduction in carbon emissions. This is vital when considered in line with the fact that only 40% of electrical waste produced in the EU is actually recycled. These changes are welcome and thankfully reflective of the government adhering to its plan to bolster the ‘green economy’. In addition to this, it allows the EU to push closer towards its goal of zero net emissions by 2020.
Whilst the introduction of the rules inevitably benefits both consumers and the environment, concerns may be raised by the original equipment manufacturers (OEPs). For example, OEPs may have concerns regarding any infringement on their intellectual property rights. In terms of how OEPs intellectual property rights could be affected in the UK by the rules, it is not clear cut with Alistair Holzhauer-Barrie, patent attorney at leading IP law firm GJE, stating that OEMs have difficulty protecting replaceable components with IP rights. This may be because, under UK law repair items must fit and must match the product. As such, although manufacturers will be required to provide replacement parts, inevitably this will create a market for third party companies to create repair parts that may be cheaper than those produced by the manufacturers themselves.  This would undercut the original manufactures and a second ‘shadow’ market may then prosper.
 Roger Harrabin, ‘Right to repair law to come in this summer’ (BBC News, 10 March 2021) <www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56340077> accessed 10 March 2021
 Adam Smith, ‘Phones and laptops will be easier to repair after EU vote’ (The Independent 26 November 2020) <www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/phone-laptop-repair-eu-vote-b1762193.html> accessed 10 March 2021
 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, ‘Electrical appliances to be cheaper to run and last longer with new standards’ (10 March 2021) <www.gov.uk/government/news/electrical-appliances-to-be-cheaper-to-run-and-last-longer-with-new-standards> accessed 10 March 2021
 Rich McEachran, ‘Are the right-to-repair laws fair?’ (Raconteur, February 4 2020) < www.raconteur.net/legal/intellectual-property/right-to-repair-ip/> accessed 10 March 2021