REACH / CLP

With nearly a dozen full-time professionals, Steptoe has the largest dedicated EU environment and life sciences regulatory practice in Brussels.  Esteemed legal directories consistently rank our team in the top tier for chemicals and environment work.  Chambers & Partners Europe recently declared Steptoe’s environmental capabilities to be “stellar.”

The majority of our EU team’s work concerns chemicals regulation, with a particular focus on REACH.  Steptoe’s renowned REACH practice is comprised of dedicated lawyers, scientists, and advisers who serve clients with an in-depth legal, scientific, and technical knowledge of the requirements.  The size and depth of our experience enable us to meet client requirements promptly, whilst ensuring a consistently high-quality end product.

Our team members have been working on all aspects of REACH since its inception:

  • Pre-registration and registration—we act as Only Representative for nearly 20 companies, have worked with hundreds of substances, and maintain a dedicated secure REACH document compliance management system for this purpose.
  • Substance and dossier evaluation, and related litigation—our team is handling more than 40 files dealing with REACH dossiers.
  • Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) listings, inclusion in Annex XIV to REACH, and related litigation.
  • Restrictions—we advise on aspects relevant for the entire process, starting with the preparation of the Annex XV dossier, European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) opinions, and decision by the European Commission, including related litigation.
  • Data sharing, corporate structuring, REACH consortia set-up and management, and advice to consortia members regarding their obligations—Steptoe is advising more than 35 REACH consortia.  In doing so, we draw upon the full resources of the lawyers from different departments (such as trade and competition) and in different jurisdictions (EU, US, and China), advising clients in a cost-efficient manner. 

REACH Litigation

Our practice is also widely recognized for successful litigation experience in proceedings related to REACH before the European courts (Court of Justice of the EU and EU General Court), specifically for SVHC listings and restrictions; the Board of Appeal (BoA) of the ECHA; and preliminary references from national courts.

CLP

Our team has extensive experience of the EU regime on Classification, Labelling, and Packaging (CLP), built up over many years under the prior CLP Directive and under the current Regulation.  We have first-hand experience of the classification procedure, including direct engagement with:

  • ECHA’s Risk Assessment Committee
  • DGs Enterprise and industry and Environment
  • member state competent authorities

We are also fully conversant with the relevant case law from the Court of Justice of the EU under the CLP regime (for example, cases C-15/10 Etimine and C-14/10 Nickel).

Representative Matters

BoA Cases

The Steptoe team represents clients in numerous cases before the BoA of ECHA.  An overview of these cases is presented below.

Successful Outcomes

  • Won the ‘Synthetic Amorphous Silica’ appeal (A-015-2015) on behalf of 35 appellants, including Evonik, BASF, Clariant, W.R. Grace, Cabot Corporation, Akzo Nobel, and Solvay, against a REACH nano-related substance evaluation decision
  • Represented 11 titanium dioxide producers, including Huntsman, Evonik and Chemours (A-011-2014), earning the annulment of a compliance check decision by ECHA.  The matter involved titanium dioxide identification and dossier evaluation under REACH.
  • Led the precedent-setting annulment of four nano-related compliance check decisions for Evonik, Rhodia, Iqesil and J.M. Huber (A-008 to A-011-2015).  This was the first nano-related decision.
  • Earned the most favorable possible outcome for Specialty Chemicals Coordination Center (A-001-2009) in the first appeal before the ECHA BoA.  We successfully obtained reversal of the ECHA decision rejecting the client’s registration and protection of client details as confidential.  The ruling was obtained within 30 days of the filing due to the strength of the arguments.
  • Handled precedent-setting annulment of a compliance check decision for CINIC Chemicals Europe Sàrl (A-001-2014).  This marked the first time ECHA was told that it is under an obligation to consider and release information present in another company’s REACH registration dossier.
  • Obtained the best possible outcome for Akzo Nobel (A-007-2014), earning the withdrawal of a compliance check decision within 30 days of the filing due to the strength of the arguments.
  • Handled precedent-setting partial annulment of a substance evaluation decision for Albemarle SPRL and others (A-009-2014).  This was the first time the BoA partially annulled a substance evaluation decision.  
  • Earned the most favorable possible outcome for United Initiators (A-006-2015), obtaining the withdrawal of a compliance check decision within 30 days of the filing due to the strength of the arguments.

Pending Appeals

  • Representing Akzo Nobel and 3 other appellants (A-023-2015) in an appeal against a substance evaluation decision for an organic peroxide substance
  • Representing Envigo Consulting and DJ Chemicals (A-026-2015) in an appeal against a substance evaluation decision (PBT assessment)
  • Representing Cheminova AS (A-005-2016) in an appeal against a compliance check decision
  • Representing Symrise (A-009-2016) in an appeal against a substance evaluation decision

Actions before the European Courts

  • Led the first successful direct action related to EU chemicals legislation before the EU General Court (GC) (T-456/11, International Cadmium Association and Others v European Commission).
  • Earned two favorable judgments from the Court of Justice of the EU in appeals introduced by PPG & SNF SAS against the ECHA decision identifying acrylamide as a substance of very high concern.  Following the successful appeals, the cases were sent back to the GC for resolution (C-625/11, PPG and SNF SAS v ECHA and C-626/11, PPG and SNF SAS v ECHA).

Noteworthy

  • Band One, Chambers Europe, Regulatory: Environment (Europe-wide), 2014-2017
  • Tier One, Legal 500 EMEA, EU Regulatory: Chemicals, REACH (Belgium), 2011-2017
  • Tier One, Legal 500 EMEA, EU Regulatory: Environment (Belgium), 2013-2016
  • Tier One, Legal 500 EMEA, EU Regulatory: Food (Belgium), 2013-2016

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