By Gwendoline Davies, Jane Weaver, Claire Burrows

A UK-based retailer might be forgiven for thinking that illegal logging in, say, Africa or India, is a world away from its business concerns. However, two recent prosecutions by the Office for Product and Safety Standards (OPSS) highlight that the Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulation 2013 (the EU Timber Regulation) could represent a real risk.  Walker Morris’ Retail and Regulatory experts Gwendoline Davies, Jane Weaver and Claire Burrows explain and offer their practical advice.

What does the law say?

The EU Timber Regulation has been enacted to counter trade in illegally harvested timber and timber products by imposing a number of criminal offences:

  • Placing illegally harvested timber on the market for the first time;
  • Failing to exercise due diligence to check the legality of the timber when placing timber or timber products on the market for the first time;
  • Failing to maintain and evaluate a due diligence system;
  • For those who buy or sell timber products already on the market, failing to keep the required information about suppliers and customers to make timber more easily traceable;
  • Obstructing an inspector; and
  • Failing to comply with a remedial notice.

The offences are variously punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. The OPSS also has powers of entry, inspection and the power to seize illegally harvested timber.