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High Court refers questions about the scope of the ban on animal testing of cosmetics to the ECJ

In a recent judgment, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales has asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule on the interpretation of the EU ban on animal testing of cosmetics products and ingredients used in cosmetics. Animal rights campaigners condemn the legal action, which is seen as an attempt to weaken the EU ban.

HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaigners in front of the EU Commission’s building in Brussels

HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaigners in front of the EU Commission’s building in Brussels

Brought before the High Court by the European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients (EFfCI), the action concerned the interpretation of the EU ban on animal testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients. The Court concluded the claim involved a real issue and referred questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). [1]

Contained in Article 18 of Regulation (EC) 1223/2009 on cosmetics products, the ban prohibits the marketing in the European Economic Area (EEA) of cosmetics products tested on animals or containing ingredients tested on animals. The questions referred concern the extent to which the ban applies to cosmetic ingredients tested on animals for the purposes of regulatory requirements imposed by non-EEA countries.

Actually, countries outside the European Union, such as China and Japan, may require some cosmetic ingredients to undergo certain tests, including tests on animals, to demonstrate the safety of those ingredients. According to EFfCI, there is uncertainty about whether placing cosmetic products incorporating these ingredients upon the market in the United Kingdom, or the rest of the European Union, would involve a breach of the prohibition imposed by Article 18(1)(b) of the Cosmetics Regulation.

The Humane Society International (HSI), animal rights group, said this action could to undermine the EU’s historic cosmetics animal testing ban.

The industry’s legal action could be a potential disaster for animal welfare and is a betrayal of the clearly expressed desire by EU consumers to end cruel and needless animal testing for cosmetics no matter where in the world that animal testing is taking place. EFfCI’s case would undermine both the spirit and the letter of the EU ban, effectively allowing companies to continue testing cosmetics on animals abroad, and importing them back into the EU. We hope the ECJ will see fit to reject this case and find in favour of a strong and comprehensive ban,” explained Susie Wilks, HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree Policy Advisor.

The High Court’s judgement can be downloaded here:

High Court Judgment 4222

High Court Judgment 4222

Vincent Gallon


[1] European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Attorney General [2014] EWHC 4222 (Admin)

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