When it comes to environmental, occupational health and safety, product safety and other issues, industrial companies top the list of targets of watchdog groups and government regulators—and none more so than companies in the automotive, electronic, mining, chemical, pharmaceutical and other industries producing products for consumers, or materials to be incorporated into those consumer products. Increasingly, there are testing requirements, limits and even prohibitions against the inclusion of hazardous materials into those products and materials. There are also concerns regarding the labeling, description and advertising pertaining to those products, including so-called "green" claims. The current regulatory atmosphere has been exacerbated by recent large-scale accidents and major natural disasters, such that domestic and global businesses alike are increasingly subject to intense, overlapping scrutiny by state, federal, national, European and international agencies. In this context, companies need effective, incisive legal guidance from attorneys with significant experience in domestic and global policy and compliance, and deep knowledge of key industries and technologies.
The chemicals, products and hazardous materials practice at Hunton & Williams comprises a global team of attorneys from our Washington, DC, London, Los Angeles, Brussels, Raleigh, Atlanta and Beijing offices. The group works collaboratively and efficiently to support client projects across multiple jurisdictions, whether serving as primary outside counsel or operating in tandem with clients’ local counsel. We also work closely with in-house legal staff and with non-attorney regulatory and technical experts to help our clients achieve optimum results.
We counsel clients across the spectrum of regulatory compliance matters and in legislative policy development and implementation. Our attorneys have been deeply involved with major international legislation and control regimes since their inception, including the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH); the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal; the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade; the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs); the Strategic Approach to Chemicals Management (SAICM); Canada’s Chemical Management Plan and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA); and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
In the United States, our attorneys have extensive experience advising clients in regard to compliance with federal and state product safety standard regulations, trade regulations and guidelines, and applicable health, safety and environmental laws and regulations, as well as product licensing and authorizations. At the federal level, these myriad requirements include the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Hazardous Substances Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Flammable Fabrics Act, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the Toxics in Packaging Act, the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, as well as numerous Consumer Product Safety Commission and Federal Trade Commission guidelines and administrative requirements.
At the state level, environmental initiatives promulgated by the state of California are often among the most restrictive and innovative in the United States, and are a bellwether of legislation to come in other jurisdictions. Our attorneys routinely advise on these complex emerging statutes, including Proposition 65 (the controversial Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986) and the Green Chemistry Initiative, and understand their potential impact on the many companies currently doing business in that state. We also advise as to specific limitations on content or use of products or materials under other states' laws and rules.
In Europe, our attorneys have extensive experience advising clients on risk and regulatory management as well as complex and multijurisdictional compliance programs and enforcement actions. Members of the team focus on the areas of REACH, regulation of electronic products (WEEE, RoHS, Battery Directive, Ecodesign Directive), nuclear liability law and EHS. We also advise as to aspects of requirements under ISO standards, including ISO 9000 and ISO 14000.
Our primary goal is to help clients proactively manage potential risk by keeping apprised of developments from watchdog groups and government agencies to minimize the likelihood of regulatory action, criminal complaints or civil lawsuits. When controversies do arise, we provide effective litigation counsel to businesses and individuals subject to law enforcement investigations or that find themselves involved in disputes with competitors, partners, vendors, suppliers and customers. We regularly represent clients in state and federal courts across the United States, and in arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution forums worldwide.