July 27th, 2018.

The upcoming Offensive Weapons Bill includes vital restrictions on the sale, delivery and possession of offensive weapons but, as outlined by Julius Bates of MDS Battery Ltd, there is a section of the bill that could have wider implications for battery suppliers.

“We all want to see knife and gun crime reduced and the thought of acid attack is just repulsive; a reduction in all three areas is what the bill is trying to achieve.

MDS Battery Ltd supplies motorcycle batteries, amongst other types, direct to owners ordered online and delivered by courier. This bill will have implications for all battery suppliers not to mention inconveniencing the 'law abiding' public.

The section of this bill which is relevant to the collective 'us' refers to the control of 'Corrosive Products'.

In order to be a 'corrosive product' it must 'contain' a substance listed at the end of the bill; in this case sulphuric acid at a concentration greater than 15% w/w. There is no clarification or distinction given so if this bill is passed we will be prohibited from supplying a lead acid battery of any type to anyone under the age of 18 years and from delivering to a 'residential address' regardless of age. A seller will obviously have to display 'all due diligence' when determining age prior to the sale as you are liable to prosecution if you get it wrong.

In this context it could be interpreted that a car or a motorcycle is a corrosive product because it contains sulphuric acid - as I suggested there is no distinction. It will also become illegal to have a corrosive substance in a 'public place'. So, using the same analogy, it would become illegal to sell a car or scooter to an under 18-year-old or in fact take your car or bike into a public place without 'good reason' or indeed to carry the battery home from the shop because you can no longer have it delivered.

Clearly this is not what was intended when the bill was drafted, and I fully admit that I have a vested interest and have used a simplistic interpretation in order to make a point. However, the broader implications need to be highlighted to the committee debating the bill so that it can be presented in a form that makes better sense in the real world. We will be suggesting that AGM/VRLA/gel/sealed (A67 non-spillable) batteries should be exempt.

Julius Bates

The Bill is at committee stage, and anyone can provide evidence. The following links will take you to the Bill notes documents;