UK timber operator fined under EUTR for failing to exercise due diligence
On 2nd March 2018, UK timber operator Hardwood Dimensions Holdings Limited pleaded guilty to an offence under reg4(b) of the Timber Products (Placing on the Market ) Regulations 2013.
The offence related to deficiencies within the Due Diligence system used by the company on its purchases of West African Timber, in this case FSC Certified Ayous in January 2017.
Subsequent to the enforcement visit it was acknowledged by BEIS that none of the material imported was from an illegal source. The prosecution was solely focused on the company’s due diligence systems. Hardwood Dimensions Holdings Limited co-operated fully at every stage of the investigation.
As a consequence of the investigations, and as advised by the investigators, Hardwood Dimensions Holdings Limited have adopted the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) RPP Due Diligence Tool kit and along with the TTF’s and the BEIS’s support have now implemented it across all of the products they place on the EU Market.
Simon Marsden Joint Managing Director of Hardwood Dimensions Holdings Ltd said: “This case shows how easy it is to fall foul of the EUTR. 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.
We are now utilising the RPP Due Diligence toolkit provided by the TTF and it has already shown to be far more robust and comprehensive than our previous system."
Following the prosecution, David Hopkins, Managing Director of the TTF said: “This case highlights 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. 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.
The TTF provides all of the tools needed to conduct exemplary due diligence via our Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP). We will continue to work with our members to ensure the highest levels of due diligence, and would recommend all of our members attend our free EUTR and RPP workshops around the country.”
"The TTF's RPP framework was reviewed and overhauled during 2016, to provide a more robust and transparent system to members. This went live in 2017, with all members moving to the new system in phases during that year."
All ‘operators’ (importers) in TTF Membership are independently third-party audited by the Soil Association, a Monitoring Organisation of the EUTR.
Hardwood Dimensions Holdings Ltd has moved to incorporate the TTF’s new RPP toolkit as its Due Diligence system, in line with advice from the Competent Authority. They have subsequently improved their due diligence and completed a third party auditing process.
"The TTF will continue to work with all members to ensure we provide high levels of training in EUTR compliance," David Hopkins concluded.
For more information, contact the Timber Trade Federation at [email protected]