What the draft Order proposes:|
1. Many pieces of weighing and measuring equipment,
in the UK and throughout the European Economic Area, are subject
to a system of prescription.
This system regulates the accuracy of the equipment by testing
it before it is put on the market and/or when it is first installed
("initial verification") and when it is repaired or
adjusted in a way which may affect its accuracy ("subsequent
verification"). Equipment is "stamped" or marked
to indicate that it has passed the verification test.
2. The provisions governing the verification
of equipment are contained in a range of legislation and have
been subject to a series of changes since the 1985 Act. Before
1993, local authority inspectors carried out all verification.
In 1999, the Deregulation (Weights and Measures) Order 1999
("the 1999 Order") amended the Weights and Measures
Act 1985 ("the 1985 Act") and introduced a system of
verification by approved verifiers as an alternative to inspectors.
A system for auditing approved verifiers, together with inspection,
was put in place in order to ensure consumer protection. Regulations
to implement the Measuring Instruments Directive
and Regulations to implement the Non-automatic Weighing Instruments
Directive (as amended)
have since extended the functions of approved verifiers concerning
various types of equipment.
3. "Approved verifiers" are manufacturers,
installers or repairers of prescribed equipment. They may apply
for approval to verify equipment which they have manufactured,
installed or repaired themselves. Final approval is required from
the National Weights and Measures Laboratory and is subject to
4. Approved verifiers are restricted by the provisions
of section 11A of the 1985 Act, as inserted by the 1999 Order.
Currently this section permits subsequent verification only after
the approved verifiers have manufactured, installed or repaired
equipment. It does not allow for verification of equipment which
they have subjected to adjustment.
The draft Order seeks to amend the Weights and Measures Act 1985
in order to overcome this anomalous situation and to permit the
verification of equipment by approved verifiers after adjustment.
5. The Department for Innovation, Universities
and Skills says that the petrol retailing industry is the only
sector likely to be significantly affected by the change.
Petrol pumps need to be adjusted more frequently than many other
kinds of equipment, as their accuracy "drifts" due to
wear and tear. Retailers are permitted to operate pumps with a
margin of error between -0.5% and +1%. The "repair"
of equipment includes the fixing of defects or the alteration
of settings if a pump is operating outside the permitted margin
of error. However, if a pump is operating within that margin,
this would not amount to a "repair" but would instead
be a simple "adjustment." The same technical procedure
is involved in altering the settings: the difference lies only
in the degree to which they are altered.
1 "Prescription" in this case means equipment
used for trade which is subject to statutory checking requirements. Back
"Verification" is the term given to the statutory check
that equipment operates accurately. Back
S.I. 1999/503 Back
Measuring Instruments Directive (2004/22/EC) Back
Non-automatic Weighing Instruments Directive (90/384/EEC) as amended
by Directive 93/68/EEC Back
"Adjustment" takes place where equipment which is operating
within the legal margin of error is adjusted to make it more accurate.
ED p6 para 23 Back