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SABYDOMA’s 2nd Legal Workshop on S[S]bD

On Monday 5th June 2023, the EU H2020 project SABYDOMA organised its 2nd Legal Workshop on Safe-by-Design (SbD), on the first day of the nanoSAFE2023 conference in Grenoble, France. 

While the by-design paradigm now seems to be integrated into regulatory policies, legal challenges have yet to be addressed. This workshop is the first to focus on potential liability issues (Asia/EU/US) and the global regulatory dimension of the by-design approach. With expert lawyers and scientists from different regions of the world among the speakers, the workshop covered the legal aspects of the SSbD approach in the nanotechnology sector, expanding out to “by-design” approaches relevant in other technological industries.

The main objective of the workshop was to have a better understanding of the potential legal consequences of the adoption of the SSbD recommendation by the European Commission on 8th December 2022 and, in particular, whether it could prompt a change in the liability regimes which are currently centered on the manufacturers’ liability and not on the “designers” of technologies.

Around 50 participants from all over the world (one third in person and two-thirds on online); with a majority of female participants, from a wide range of stakeholders (scientists, industry, consultants, market researchers, NGO representatives, regulators, policy makers/advisors, lawyers, etc.), joined the workshop (See Figures 1 and 2 below). 




Figure 1. Representation of the different stakeholder groups among the workshop participants.

Figure 2. Workshop Global Outreach – Participants per Country.


After a warm welcome to the workshop by the moderator Mr Anthony Bochon, from Gil Robles – San Bartolome & Partners (Brussels), SABYDOMA’s coordinator, Prof. Andrew Nelson, from the University of Leeds, and Ignasi Gispert Pi, from APPNPS (Spain), presented SABYDOMA’s key findings towards a better understanding of the SSbD paradigm. Hubert Rauscher, representing the European Commission JRC, then talked about the recommendation of the EC on SSbD. Dr Muhammad Nizam Awang (Universiti Sains Islam), Paul V. Majkowski (New York and New Jersey bars) and Anthony Bochon followed with talks  about the Asian, American and EU perspectives on liability and the by-design paradigm. Our last speaker, Leonie Reins (Erasmus University Rotterdam), gave an insight of the SSbD concept as a regulatory approach. 

The workshop ended with a very interactive Round Table discussion where our four panellists (Andrew Nelson, Ignasi Gispert, Dalila Antunes (from Factor Social), and Hubert Rauscher) were interviewed by the moderator Anthony Bochon.

This second legal workshop highlighted that the SSbD recommendation was not meant to cause any change in liability regimes and that it remains until now a voluntary scheme. Whether it could influence the interpretation of the current legal regimes remains uncertain and the future legislation on product safety (already adopted) and product liability (currently under adoption) will have to be carefully watched.

You can find the presentations here, available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0) (DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8072145), and the recording of the workshop in SABYDOMA’s YouTube Channel: SABYDOMA’s 2nd Legal Workshop on S(S)bD Part 1 & Part 2. The agenda can be found here.