» Implementation of the new UKAS Customer Agreement
As many stakeholders will already be aware, UKAS is required to hold an Agreement with each of its customers as required by ISO/IEC 17011 Conformity Assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies. Issue 1 of the UKAS Agreement was produced in May 2000, prior to the publication of ISO/IEC 17011, and hence a Supplement to the Agreement was required to cover additional obligations introduced within the new standard.
Since that time additional policies have been produced by bodies that UKAS is a member of, and which promote global recognition of accredited reports and certificates through mutual recognition agreements, namely the European cooperation for Accreditation (EA), the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). To remain a signatory to these mutual recognition agreements UKAS is required to comply with the introduction and changes of these policies, some of which include obligations that need to be included within the UKAS Agreement. As a consequence UKAS has been reviewing the existing UKAS Agreement with the aim of bringing it into full compliance with mandatory requirements, and also to bring the Agreement and Supplement back into a single document.
ISO/IEC 17011 is currently under revision by ISO CASCO, although UKAS is kept fully up-to-date on developments through direct participation in the Drafting Committee. The current draft has already been through significant comment and it is felt that the obligations placed on accreditation bodies and conformity assessment bodies is unlikely to undergo further significant change. Of note is the requirement that Customer Agreements shall be legally enforceable, and in accordance with this UKAS has taken significant legal advice in drawing up the new UKAS Agreement. To ensure that the changes made are considered to be fair UKAS has also discussed this with the UKAS Policy Advisory Council (PAC) throughout the Agreement revision – In particular this has included the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills as well as key stakeholder groups representing laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies. A specific meeting was held with the key stakeholder groups to discuss the detail and rationale behind each change, with subsequent comments acted upon.
Following final approval by the UKAS Board and PAC the revised UKAS Agreement was published and implemented at the end of February 2016. In line with clause 8.1 of the previous UKAS Agreement (Issue 1), UKAS has given 90 days’ notice that Issue 1 is being replaced by Issue 2 effective from 1st June 2016. In order for customers to maintain their applicant or accredited status (including bodies currently under sanction) they are required to have returned a duly signed copy of Issue 2 of the UKAS Agreement for receipt at UKAS by this date. UKAS shall sign and date this document and return it to the customer, having taken a copy for its own records.
The UKAS Agreement Issue 2 (February 2016) is now available on the UKAS website (www.ukas.com), and can be downloaded here. In addition, the website also contains a comparison table summarising the key changes between Issue 1 and Issue 2. Customers are requested to make themselves familiar with the obligations of this new Agreement and ensure a copy signed by an appropriately authorised representative of the organisation is returned to UKAS by post or email before 1st June 2016.
When signing the Agreement, customers are requested to include:
- Their accreditation number(s) in the boxes provided at the top of page 1 (existing customers only). If the legal entity holds more than 1 accreditation then these can be included within a single Agreement.
- The name of their legal entity (and trading name if relevant), company number (if applicable) and address in box 2 on page 1. Please choose the box 2 which applies to your company, either as a limited company or partnership/sole trader.
- Signature, printed name, position, date and company name on page 12.
- Please DO NOT populate the date on page 1: This shall be completed by UKAS at the time it signs the Agreement.
Signed Agreements should be sent to:
United Kingdom Accreditation Service
2 Pine Trees, Chertsey Lane,
Alternatively scanned copies can be emailed to email@example.com
Please note that the changes to the new UKAS Agreement are primarily required by ISO/IEC 17011 or supporting mandatory documents published by EA, IAF or ILAC. As such UKAS is not in a position to agree to customised versions through omission or alteration. Customers must ensure that UKAS is in receipt of a signed copy of Issue 2 of the UKAS Agreement before termination of Issue 1 on the above date. It is important that customers recognise that they must hold a valid UKAS Agreement with UKAS in order for their accreditation to be maintained and/or assessment activities to be conducted.