UK timber company fined under EUTR

6 March 2018

A British timber company has been fined £4,000 for breaching the EU Timber Regulation by importing a batch of FSC-certified West African hardwood without conducting satisfactory due diligence as required under the regulation.

The fine for Hardwood Dimensions (Holdings) Ltd marked the first enforcement action carried out by the Government’s new Office for Product Safety and Standards since its establishment earlier this year, with the government saying the company failed to adequately check the legality of a batch of ayous from Cameroon when placing it on the market.

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has published a statement emphasing that the offence was focused on due diligence system deficiencies and that the government had acknowledged none of the FSC-certified material imported by the TTF member company was from an illegal source. It also said Hardwood Dimensions had now adopted the TTF's RPP Due Diligence Tool kit across all its products lines.

“This case shows how easy it is to fall foul of the EUTR," commented Simon Marsden, joint managing director of Hardwood Dimensions Holdings Ltd.

"As a company, we felt we had adequate procedures in place, particularly in this case as we were purchasing FSC certified material. However, this is clearly not the case and we admitted that for this one particular supply line our Due Diligence systems were deficient."

David Hopkins, managing director of the TTF, said the case highlighted the need for all importers to conduct thorough Due Diligence assessments on all of their products, even those which carry FSC certification.

"FSC alone is no guarantee of having complied with legal process," he said. "It is the sole responsibility of importers to ensure compliance with the EUTR and that all relevant procedures are in place.

"It was clear that the timber itself was not illegally harvested, but the company has been punished for not following due process."

Hardwood Dimensions was fined at Manchester Magistrates Court after pleading guilty at the first hearing.

“This conviction shows just how serious we are about compliance issues and how we will take rapid action when rules have been broken to protect consumers, businesses and the environment,” added Mike Kearney, head of enforcement at the Office for Product Safety and Standards.