Appliances Direct holding company prosecuted for breaching F-Gas regulations


04 January 2024

Buy It Direct (BID), the holding company for Appliances Direct has been fined £37,500 following legal action taken by the Environment Agency for breaching F-Gas Regulations.

Acting on information provided by F-Gas certification scheme REFCOM, in 2020, the online sales company was found to be in breach of F-GAS Regulation Article 11 Paragraph 5, which seeks to ensure that non-hermetically sealed equipment charged with fluorinated greenhouse gases shall only be sold to an end user whereby installation is to be carried out by someone holding a valid F-Gas handling certificate or F-Gas registered contractor.

According to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), which operates REFCOM, BID chief executive Nick Glynne had argued in the company's defence that purchasers "could not proceed to actual purchase without agreeing contractual terms which included installation by a relevant qualified engineer."

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Prosecutors dismissed these claims because there was "no evidence that the installation will be properly carried out", and the judgement found that 94% of Appliances Direct's sales to end users lacked evidence indicating compliance with regulations.

Graeme Fox, technical director at BESA, said: "This is a landmark prosecution that sets a precedent for anyone trying to circumvent these important public safety regulations using online sales platforms. REFCOM and its members have been raising the alarm about online sellers for several years as they represent a vulnerability in the system that can lead to equipment falling into the wrong hands. Most distributors and wholesalers are fully aware of their responsibilities and ensure they receive confirmation of safe installation before selling refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, but we remain vigilant for any that might seek to act irresponsibly for profit.

"We will continue to work hard on behalf of the industry and its customers to ensure only properly trained, qualified and registered individuals and companies carry out this important work."