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SI 1994/2866

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The Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication) (Amendment) Order 1994 is part of the Occupational Health & Safety Information Service's online subscription. Bringing you a comprehensive selection of legislation, regulations, guidance, standards, including BSI and best practice which is updated daily, you can find documents on a wide range of subject areas such as Food & Drink, Environmental Health, Environmental Management, Fire & Offshore Safety.

Publication Date:
December 1994


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Explanatory Note:

(This note is not part of the Order)

    This Order implements the amendments made by Council Directive 89/617/EEC (OJ No. L 357, 7.12.89, p. 28) to Council Directive 80/181/EEC (OJ No. L39, 15.2.80, p. 40) ("the Directive") which relates to the use of units of measurement for economic, public health, public safety or administrative purposes ("the specified circumstances").
    It amends the Weights and Measures Act 1985 ("the Act"). The Act is also amended to reflect the requirements of the Directive by the Units of Measurement Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/2867) which should be read in conjunction with this Order to see how the Act's provisions as a whole are amended in implementation of the Directive.
    Section 8 of the Act is amended so as to make unlawful the use for trade of the pint, fluid ounce, pound or ounce except as supplementary indications of quantity or where a derogation which is reflected in section 8(2) permits their use as primary units. The pound (lb), for example, may be used either as a supplementary indication or, until 1st January 2000 (see article 3(2) of this Order), as a primary indication for the sale of goods loose from bulk.
    One of the most significant of the amendments made by this Order to the Act is made by article 4(2), the effect of which will be to prohibit, on and after 1st January 2000, the sale of fruit and vegetables loose from bulk by the pound. Another important amendment, made by article 3(2), preserves the use of the pint for the sale of draught beer and cider and for milk in a returnable bottle beyond that date.

    (This assessment is not part of the Order)
    This Assessment applies to the costs arising out of making the instruments required to implement the Units of Measurement Directive 89/617/EEC in relation to the authorisation of units of measurement, weights and measures and price marking legislation.

    Purpose and expected benefits
    2. The purpose of the measures is to implement amendments made to the Units of Measurement Directive 80/181/EEC by Directive 89/617/EEC. The 1980 Directive lays down the legal units of measurement to be used for expressing quantities for economic, public health, public safety or administrative purposes. The principal changes made by the implementing Regulations and Orders are to end the use of the pound and ounce for the sale of goods loose from bulk from 1st January 2000 and for pre-packed goods made up in varying quantities, such as cheese and meat, from 1st October 1995. The effect of the implementing legislation is to provide that from 1st January 2000, only one system of measurement, the metric system, is generally to be used for retail sales.

    Business sectors affected
    3. The main sectors affected are grocers, greengrocers, fruiterers, dairymen, butchers, fishmongers and poulterers (62,200 legal business units) and manufacturers of scales and weighing machines (106 legal business units). (Source: Business Monitor. Total for manufacturers of scales and weighing machines includes portable power tools manufacturers.)

    Compliance costs for a typical business
    4. The main cost is likely to be the modification or replacement of weighing machines. There are likely also to be smaller costs for new counter ticketing, for modifying computer systems, for staff training and for customer information.
    5. Industry and trade sources have estimated that the cost of modifying weighing machines is likely to be between £40 and £180 per machine. The British Retail Consortium estimate that around 15 per cent of machines will need to be replaced as it will be uneconomic to convert them and a new retail machine could, on average, cost around £400. It is understood from LACOTS that the charge for testing and stamping machines might be, on average, around £15 per machine.
    6. For a retailer with total sales of around £8 billion, the cost of modifying and replacing machines could be around £2 million, representing 0.03 per cent of sales. For a small store with annual sales of around £250,000 and with one weighing machine, a cost of £125 to modify, test and stamp or £415 to purchase, test and stamp a new machine would amount to 0.05 per cent or 0.17 per cent respectively of sales. Reliable estimates for individual firms are not available for other costs except the British Retail Consortium estimate that new counter ticketing could cost around £110,000 for a large retailer. All costs are non recurring.

    Total compliance cost
    7. The weighing machine industry estimate that there are some 200,000 retail and industrial scales not yet metricated. If 15 per cent of machines are replaced at an average cost of £400 and the remaining machines were converted at an average cost of £110 the total conversion cost would be around £30 million. If the average cost of testing and stamping were £15 and if this were required on 30 per cent of converted machines then such costs would add around a further £1 million.
    8. The British Retail Consortium estimate the total cost of new counter tickets at over £1 million and changing computer systems at between £50,000 and £100,000. Reliable estimates for staff training and publicity are not available but the British Retail Consortium expect the costs of the former to be substantial.
    9. There will also be costs in changing the designs of labels of pre-packed goods which bear both imperial and metric quantity marking so as to show the metric quantity first. The trade estimate that this could cost around £2 million.
    10. These costs are likely to be incurred between 1993 and 1999.

    Effect on international competitiveness
    11. It is considered that in general the measures are unlikely to affect the international competitive position of the UK. However, to the extent that the Directive provides for weighing machines to be calibrated in the same unit of measurement in the UK as in other EC Member States and in most other countries this will reduce barriers to exports from, and imports into, the UK.

    Extent of consultation
    12. Over 700 bodies were consulted and over three months were allowed for comments on the detailed provisions. Information is generally based on trade estimates.

    Arrangements for monitoring and review
    13. No arrangements have been made to monitor compliance costs. The proposals implement an EC Directive and implementation has generally gone no further than the Directive's requirements.

Legislation - UK General

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