General Court has annulled ECHA's decision regarding administrative charge
At the start of October, the General Court annulled the Agency's decision to impose an administrative charge on a company. The charge had been levied following ECHA's check of the company's size – it was found to be large and not small as it had self-declared. The company also received an invoice for the difference in fee payable because of its size.
SME companies benefit from reduced fees under the REACH Regulation and it is important that ECHA verifies these self-declarations to ensure fair competition and equal treatment amongst REACH registrants.
ECHA has looked carefully at the Court's judgement and has considered what changes it should make to bring the charging practice into line with the Court's decision. ECHA understands that the General Court confirms the principle that ECHA undertakes SME verification to ensure that only genuine SMEs profit from the fee reduction. However, the administrative charge should not only be based on the workload, but needs to be proportionate compared to the amount of fees that the large company avoided by registering as an SME. The Court's ruling will be taken into account in the already planned revision of the charge. ECHA's Management Board will discuss the new charges at their meeting in December.
There are other cases pending before the Court, and ECHA is currently assessing the extent to which this judgement has implications for them.
It is in the best interest of companies to double-check themselves whether they correctly applied the Commission SME Recommendation when they registered. If they did, or if they correct the mistake on their own initiative, they will not have to pay any administrative charge.