Chemicals | Fieldfisher
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With 25 years of experience, EU chemical law - compliance and litigation - is a core area of expertise. Our main areas of focus include general chemicals law, pesticides, biocides, task forces, cosmetics, F-gases, detergents and water law. We also address related data protection and data privacy, competition and other business law issues that arise when drafting and negotiating commercial agreements or setting up and running consortia.

Our services

Our team has established a reputation of excellence for more than two decades, advising major plant protection product companies on the European approval and renewal of approval procedures under Regulation 1107/2009, as well as follow-up authorisation of products at Member State level.

We have provided legal assistance on a variety of issues ranging from initial notifications of active substances, joint and individual company dossier preparation and submission, including zonal applications and mutual recognition across jurisdictions, the creation of Task Forces and related data protection issues, including compliance with European competition laws. We have addressed these issues at both an EU-wide and Member State level.

Our practice has been particularly active in challenging regulatory restrictions and negotiating data sharing agreements during the renewal of authorisation processes, including relevant arbitration proceedings in several EU countries, as well as the re-submission of dossiers. Our lawyers have negotiated many data sharing agreements and successfully handled arbitration and litigation cases in various EU countries relating to data access.

Our team also follows EU initiatives on fertilisers and biostimulants very closely, in addition to those on the sustainable use of pesticides and PIC Regulation on export of banned substances to countries outside the EU.

The Biocides team is the longest established and leading team of its kind in the EU. Benefiting from a wealth of knowledge amassed over decades, the Biocides team is unsurpassed in legal expertise and experience.

The team provides legal advice on data protection, data sharing, dossier submission and evaluation, regulatory requirements under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) as well as overlap with other legislation, such as the REACH Regulation and legislation on medicinal products, medical devices, cosmetics, detergents and food contact materials.

The Biocides team frequently provides expert advice on the Member State transitional laws applying to biocidal active substances/product type (AS/PT) combinations in the review programme. Its expertise encompasses all EU Member States. It also helps with and provides advice on making biocidal product authorisation applications at the national and EU levels. The team has broad experience in providing expert advice on data sharing/compensation agreements, as such or in the context of distribution/purchasing or other arrangements. It has an in-depth knowledge of the free-rider and EU competition law issues at stake. The Biocides team is also guiding a number of AS/PT combinations through the EU review programme, including counselling and representation before the European Commission and ECHA.

The team has also represented clients in numerous litigation proceedings before ECHA, Member State Courts and the ECJ.

We advise manufacturers and retailers on the implementation and enforcement of the Cosmetics Regulation, its revision, and associated borderline issues (biocides, detergents, pharmaceuticals…).

Our team provides advice to international household names and SMEs on the application of the Detergents Directive, likely changes under the Detergents Regulation, and associated borderline issues, particularly with respect to the relationship with biocidal products.

Our team provides advice on compliance with the F-gas Regulation, its revision, and the inclusion of F-gases in the restriction of PFAS under REACH, in addition to devising defence strategies against the inclusion of clients’ products in the scope of the new rules.

Our team provides a broad spectrum of chemicals-related advice, and has substantial experience in dealing with the most significant REACH implementation and compliance issues relevant for companies or for groups of companies (industry associations, task forces or consortia).

We represent clients in the field of product regulation, advising on issues related  to  the  evaluation,  authorisation and restriction of chemicals, as well as classification, packaging and labelling of chemical substances and preparations, including safety data sheets, marketing and use restrictions, workplace regulations, and product liability related issues, as well as questions relating to the free movement of goods and parallel imports.

We regularly represent chemical companies before the European institutions, Members State authorities, Scientific Committees, ECHA Board of Appeal, and the European and national courts. We also regularly speak at major conferences worldwide and contribute to a number of publications.

We frequently enjoy media attention due to our success in pioneering disputes in evolving areas of law, such as winning an interim Order from the President of the EU General Court to suspend an ECHA decision regarding the REACH Candidate List - the first of its kind - and regularly winning appeals filed at the ECHA Board of Appeal against ECHA decisions. The team also won a landmark case against the Commission on classification and labelling legislation before the EU courts.

We advise both private clients and consortia as well as task force management and we manage currently more than 40 REACH consortia including letters of access and financial accounts.

The team advises a number of leading chemicals companies and groups of companies on their obligations under the EU legal framework for water protection, including the Water Framework Directive and the Environmental Quality Standards (EQS), Groundwater, Urban Wastewater Treatment and Drinking Water Directives.

The foregoing includes advising on the increasing scrutiny on chemical substances via the PS and PHS listing, as well as EPR responsibilities.

Notable highlights: 

  • We manage about 40 REACH consortia as financial trustee and legal secretary.
  • We prevailed in complex data sharing disputes against third parties, resulting in favorable ECHA decisions.
  • We represented German Galvanisation Industry association Vecco comprising 185 affiliates as well as Italian association Assogavanica comprising fifty members, in an appeal before the European Court of Justice concerning the inclusion of chromium trioxide in Annex XIV of REACH. This case is the first of its kind and raises critical aspects for the exemption of substances for Annex XIV and therefore will constitute a landmark judgment. 
  • We set up the REACH consortium for lime substances (approximately 300 members) and acted as trustee and legal secretary to a large consortium of chemical companies in relation to the REACH regulation (EU Lime Consortium).
  • We filed ground-breaking annulment actions before the European General Court against Commission Regulations adopted under REACH (for clients such as PPG EEIG or the International Cadmium Association).

Brexit: New UK REACH Framework continues to take shape

From our EU Regulatory - Chemicals /Brexit team - May 2020