First UK company fined for breach of EU Timber Regulation

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Designer furniture retailer Lombok has become the first business to be fined for breaching regulations introduced in 2013 to prohibit the importing and sale of illegally harvested timber. On 25 October 2017 at Westminster Magistrates Court, Angora 2011 Limited, trading as Lombok, was convicted and fined £5,000 plus costs after pleading guilty at the first hearing. The company failed to exercise the required due diligence when placing an artisan sideboard on the market, imported on 1 June 2016 from India in contravention of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).

A previous breach of EUTR had earlier been identified and led to a Notice of Remedial Action was served on Lombok on 28 April 2015.This was followed by a warning letter in October 2015, when the company failed to comply with the notice. On 20 October 2016, officers visited Lombok’s central London showroom and found the required due diligence checks had not been made for an artisan sideboard for sale that had been imported from India.

When convicting the company the district judge said  these offences are “important”, addressing environmental and biodiversity concerns, and public confidence that companies do not endanger those. Companies are required to mitigate the risk of illegal logging, he added, but Lombok had failed to exercise due diligence when importing the artisan sideboard, with their previous failures an aggravating feature, though in mitigation they had reacted proactively. Taking into account their mitigation and credit for an early guilty plea, Lombok was fined £5,000, plus a victim surcharge of £170 and prosecution costs of £2,951. The total of £8,121 was ordered to be paid within 28 days.

Mike Kearney, Head of Enforcement at UK Competent Authority Regulatory Delivery said:

"The Government’s Regulatory Delivery team will take action against businesses that persistently, deliberately or recklessly fail to meet their legal obligations. Lombok had failed to change their practises in response to our advice and so, given the impact of illegal logging, a criminal prosecution was appropriate. I am pleased that Lombok is now improving its supply chain monitoring."

This prosecution was brought by the Insolvency Service Criminal Enforcement Team on behalf of Regulatory Delivery, which is part of the government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

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