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Seán Finan

Seán Finan is an associate in the Life Sciences team.  His practice covers environmental, food and beverage and pharmaceutical regulation. 

Seán has specific experience in a number of key areas for EU and UK clients in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and consumer goods industries, including:

  • General food regulation; novel food regulation; genetically modified and "precision bred" products;
  • Advertising claims, particularly environmental claims and "greenwashing";
  • Environmental and ESG compliance issues (Extended Producer Responsibility, ); and
  • Chemicals legislation (REACH, CLP, Biocides).

Seán is qualified in both England & Wales, and the Republic of Ireland.

The High Court has quashed decisions by the Food Standard Agencies in England, Wales and Scotland (“the FSAs”) that concluded that monk fruit decoctions are a novel food.  The Court ordered the FSAs to re-consider their position by assessing all of the evidence submitted to the FSAs on its own merits, rather than the FSAs’ previous approach of rigidly applying (non‑binding) European Union guidance.  The judgment is available here.  This case is the first of its kind in Great Britain and is relevant for individuals and companies considering whether or not their foods or food ingredients are novel under the GB novel food regime, which requires evidence of significant consumption of a food prior to 1 May 1997 to conclude the food is “non‑novel”, and not requiring a novel food approval. Continue Reading Food Standard Agencies in Great Britain unlawfully classified monk fruit as novel, High Court rules

A UK judge has decided that Odysea Ltd, an artisan food company, can use the word “raw” to describe its small-batch, minimally‑processed honey.  Judge Neville, of the First‑tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber), gave the decision on 26 February 2024.  The judgement is available here and opens with a classic reference to Winnie the Pooh:

  1. The things that make me different are the things that make me me”, said Piglet, who must have seen quite a bit of honey eaten over the years.  If he treated Pooh to some “raw honey”, what would be different about it?
  2. Plenty, says Odysea, who have sold thousands of jars of honey proudly labelled as “raw”: unlike ordinary honey, ours has not been heated above its natural temperature and has undergone far less processing, so is of better quality.  Describing one of Odysea’s raw honey products, the judges at the Great Taste Awards complimented the “subtle pine and fir flavours, the perfect level of sweetness, the hint of saltiness, the sheer sexiness of this honey”.
  3. Nothing, says Waltham Forest Trading Standards, who wants them to stop: all honey is raw because it has not been cooked, so it misleads consumers to suggest that yours is special.  Odysea has had to reprint its labels to say “artisan honey” instead.  The Tribunal must decide if that is right.

Continue Reading UK Judge Permits “Raw” Label for Honey

Big news for manufacturers: the UK Government announced on 1 August 2023 that it will indefinitely recognize the EU’s product conformity assessment mark (the “Conformité Européenne” or “CE” mark), with respect to a range of manufactured goods placed on the UK market. 

The move is a significant reversal of the UK’s previous, post‑Brexit policy.  In a bid to separate the UK’s internal market from the European market, the UK promised to phase out CE marks for products marketed in England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain or “GB”), and replace them with an equivalent “UKCA” mark.  However, the project suffered from numerous delays, and the UK repeatedly extended the deadline for transitioning from the CE mark to the UKCA mark, before the recent announcement that the UK will accept CE marks indefinitely.  Despite this change of policy, the UK has not abandoned the UKCA mark yet, and manufacturers may still choose to use it.  Even so, it is not obvious why a manufacturer would choose conformity assessment that is recognized only in the UK over (or even as well as) conformity assessment that is recognized across the UK and the EU.  What remains to be seen is whether differences between the UK and EU conformity assessment standards will lead to a kind of “forum shopping” by manufacturers. 

Also, and of significant importance for medical device manufacturers, the indefinite extension of CE mark recognition does not (at least currently) cover medical devices nor in vitro diagnostic medical devices (“IVDs”).  The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”) is separately consulting on international recognition of foreign approvals (including CE marks) in the medical device space.Continue Reading UK Government to Recognize CE Marks Indefinitely (other than for Medical Devices and IVDs)

The relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) came into sharp focus recently, as US President Joe Biden visited ROI.  Biden’s visit coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998 (GFA) which brought an end to 30 years of Troubles in Northern Ireland (NI).  The UK government will have welcomed the fact that President Biden described the Windsor Framework (WF) as one of two pillars (along with the GFA) which are key to future peace and prosperity in NI.  The WF is also fundamental to the recent improvement of the tripartite UK-EU-ROI relationship.

The Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) was part of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and sought to square the circle of respecting the GFA, whilst maintaining NI’s place in the UK Single Market. But the Unionist community in NI felt the NIP left NI being treated differently from the rest of the UK – a feeling which led to the 2022 suspension of the Stormont Assembly. The negotiation of the WF demonstrated a new and welcome willingness of the UK and the EU to negotiate mutually acceptable solutions to some of the problems created by Brexit (even if the WF has not (so far) achieved one of its objectives of re‑starting power-sharing at Stormont).

What has Changed under the WF?Continue Reading The Implications of the Windsor Framework