The UK left the European Union, single market and customs union on 31 January 2020.

There is a transition period where not much will change, expiring in December 2020, however British business should be prepared as some regulatory requirements will cease to be mirrored between UK and Europe.

I am often asked about the ISO Standards and how the UK will be affected; put simply there will be no change in application or compliance.

The main Standards are marked to ensure International acceptance: e.g BS EN ISO 9001:2015Where BS means that the Standard is adopted as a British Standard

  • EN means that it is adopted as a European Standard
  • ISO means that it is adopted as an International Standard

We will continue to have Certification Bodies in the UK accredited by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service).

The one area that will change is the CE marking of products. There will be a transition period but in the long-term products sold in the UK will need to be certified to the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) Marking standard.

However, products destined for European markets will still need to be CE marked as Europe will not accept the UKCA mark. It is likely that as the CE and UKCA requirements will be the same, most products destined for UK and EU markets will need to be dual marked UKCA & CE.

The following rules will apply:

  • UKCA markings must only be placed on a product by the manufacturer or authorised representative;
  • When attaching the UKCA marking the manufacturer takes full responsibility for the products conformity with the requirements of the relevant legislation;
  • The UKCA marking must only be used to show product conformity with the relevant UK legislation;
  • Any UKCA marking must not misconstrue the meaning or form of the mark to third parties;
  • No other markings may be attached which affect the visibility, legibility or meaning of the UKCA marking;
  • The UKCA marking cannot be placed on products unless there is a specific requirement to do so in the legislation.

The Government will clarify the situation in due course.

The approaching General Election and new Government will set the scene for 2020.

If there is a Labour Government then we are in for more delay and uncertainty, further delays and the prospect of another referendum will mean that business is unwilling to invest in plant, machinery and staff given that we will not know whether we are leaving or staying in the EU.

If there is a Conservative Government then it is possible that we will leave the EU in January 2020, but the long-term trading with the EU is still to be determined. However, we will be able to negotiate trade deals with countries outside the EU.

There is much speculation on the outcome of both the Election and our future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. All we can hope is that some degree of future planning will enable business to plan ahead.

I am often asked about the future of our management standards, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 27001 and others after we leave the EU; the answer is simple, the standards are British, European and International and will continue to apply throughout the world regardless of our status within the EU. Once certificated, companies will have their credentials recognised worldwide, as they are now.

Let us keep our fingers crossed and hope that some common sense will prevail following the Election results.

Many Large Organisations and Government Departments use tenders containing questionnaires;

“Do you have a certificated Quality Management System to IS 9001: 2015 or similar? “ If yes please forward a copy of your certificate. If not please answer the following 20 questions ………………………….

“Do you have a certificated Environmental Management System to IS0 14001: 2015 or similar? “ If yes please forward a copy of your certificate. If not please answer the following 20 questions ………………………….

Seem familiar?

If the tender request states that ISO9001 and ISO14001 are entry requirements and you don’t have these, your quotation or tender, however well prepared, will not get beyond the starting gate.

These organisations simply do not have the time to vet each potential supplier for quality or environmental status.

They rely on one of the Certification Bodies to do the work for them. If the organisation can show that it has passed, and continues to pass, the International Requirements for quality and environmental performance it will be considered for inclusion of that organisation’s preferred suppliers list.

Equally the certificates presented as proof that the organisation does have the necessary qualifications may be scrutinised if they do not bear the UKAS tick and crown that all UK certification bodies use if they are fully accredited.

Non- accredited certificates, however well meaning, do not carry the same weight

We see many organisations claiming to have ISO 9001, ISO14001 or other management standards only to find that their certificates are not accepted as evidence of compliance. These certificates are issued by a number of companies but are not accredited by UKAS.

There is a single accreditation body in the UK, this is UKAS, the UK Government decided that there should be only one body tasked with authorising certification bodies.

There are a good number of these and the certificates they issue bear the UKAS tick and crown logo.

These certification bodies must reach, and maintain a high standard to continue to claim that they are in fact an Accredited Certification Body. Regular and strict audits are carried out. One principle is that no certification body can offer consultancy as well as assessment; this would be a conflict of interest and is prohibited.

On the other side non accredited organisations issue certificates claiming to meet the requirements of which ever standard is covered. Some even show a logo claiming to be accredited by some other accreditation agency. This is designed to fool anyone gullible enough to believe it.

Companies like ours have complained that these non-accredited companies are deceiving their customers and should be made to declare that they are not accredited by UKAS. UKAS is not a regulator and sadly has no powers to stop these organisations carrying on. Also the Office of fair trading is not interested in taking action.

A good number of these non-accredited organisations have sprung up; some offer consultancy and certification as a package. The bold claim is that they offer a no pass no fee guarantee. I often say to people who contact me “how can they fail to certify you when they have set up the system? The sad truth dawns on these people when they submit a certificate claiming to show compliance with a Standard only to find that it is not recognised, except by the issuing authority.

One other fact is clear; you cannot set up a system and get it certificated in 30 days (or less in one case) as clearly an assessor must be able to audit what you have done not what you are planning to do. Evidence is just not there under these timescales.

Beware of non-accredited organisations. If it seems ‘ too good to be true’ it probably isn’t any good.

Certification to the various Management Standards such as ISO 9001 (the Quality management  Standard and 14001 (the Environmental management standard) have been recognised worldwide as viable qualifications.

The UK Government has appointed a sole Accreditation Body  to accredit certification bodies to issue certificates of compliance to management standards.

“The United Kingdom Accreditation Service is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.

Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these evaluators.

UKAS is a non-profit-distributing private company, limited by guarantee. UKAS is independent of Government but is appointed as the national accreditation body by the Accreditation Regulations 2009 (SI No 3155/2009) and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government through the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.”
I was contacted recently by a company that had been ‘certificated’ to both the standards by a non UKAS certification body.  The company believed that they met the requirements of the two standards because year after year their ‘Assessor’ told them that they were compliant.  Imagine how they felt when one of their major customers carried out a vendor audit on them and told them that their certifications were worthless and they were far from compliant with 9001 and 14001. 
It makes my blood boil when I see these so called certification companies issuing certificates purporting to show that full compliance to the international standards has been achieved when in fact they do nothing of the sort.
This company asked me to look through their Quality Manual; it was riddled with errors and did not comply with ISO 9001.  It was confused and woolly, it did not address the six mandatory procedures required by 9001 and did not even reference the correct Standard.  The Company, quite rightly, feel that they have wasted their money and will now have to expend more money to gain proper certification.
These non-accredited certification companies should be severely censured if they do not provide the promised  outcome.  I also believe that UKAS and or Trading Standards should act and prosecute where they can see misrepresentation has taken place.
To be absolutely sure that your certificate gives confidence that your systems actually meet the requirements of the Standards and will stand up to external scrutiny then insist on a UKAS Accredited Certification Body.   If in doubt, look at the UKAS web-site

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