Weights and measures – What will happen post-Brexit?

Ever since the announcement of the UK’s departure from the EU, we have been keeping an eye out on any publication and guidance regarding legal metrology, i.e. weights and measures, to discern how manufacturing in the UK will be impacted, if at all. So far, there has been little official guidance, with the designated website on product safety and metrology in a No-Deal Brexit case mainly stating “watch this space.”

In 2018, Trading Standards published a Think Tank Report on the Opportunities and Threats from the UK Withdrawal from the EU, raising some important points and concerns. They came to the conclusion that “[i]t is difficult to see how Brexit can have anything other than a detrimental effect on metrology” and that “[r]emaining as far as possible aligned to the EU market post-Brexit would be the best possible option for UK businesses and consumers from the metrology perspective.”

As of Friday, November 20th 2020, there is finally some more information available. The new guidance on Product safety and metrology from 1 January 2021: Great Britain provides a link to an updated version of the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006 (alternative link). In short, there are no major deviations from the existing standard, so for now, the three packers’ rules will remain the primary guidance for any manufacturer of packaged goods.


Duty to comply with the three packers’ rules

(1) It shall be the duty of the packer or importer of packages to ensure that they are made up in such a way as to satisfy the following rules

(a) the contents of the packages shall be not less on average than the nominal quantity;

(b) the proportion of packages having a negative error greater than the tolerable negative error shall be sufficiently small for batches of packages to satisfy the requirements specified in Schedule 2;

(c) no package shall have a negative error greater than twice the tolerable negative error.

(2) Compliance with the rules in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) shall be determined by the reference test.


Whilst we will only know by the end of the year what exactly is going to happen, there will likely be some changes, however minute. As soon as this becomes clear, we will provide further guidance to our valued clients and to everyone who can benefit from it, whilst ensuring full compliance of our weight control solution.

Apart from legal metrology, there may also be requirements for packaging print changes in respect of the 14 key allergen groups and nutritional content. We would, therefore, recommend that anyone already contemplating label changes should, in their own interest, hold off as long as possible. We will keep you updated as soon as we know more.

Please note that this information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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