Fireworks: Before you light the blue touch paper..

31st October 2018 Business Crime

With Bonfire Night almost upon us, don’t get caught out by the laws relating to domestic fireworks, which are not nearly as relaxed as many think. There are wide ranging laws covering the storage, supply and use of fireworks, contained within:

  • The Consumer Protection Act 1987;
  • The Fireworks Act 2003;
  • The Fireworks Regulations 2004, as amended by the Fireworks (Amendment) Regulations 2004);
  • The Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015;
  • The Explosives Act 1875;
  • The Explosives Regulations 2014;
  • The Product Safety Amendment and Revocation Regulations 2012;
  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

When considering what can and cannot be done legally around the use of fireworks, it is important to understand the classifications. There are 4 in the UK:

Category 1 this category covers novelty items such as sparklers and party poppers or ‘indoor fireworks’.

Categories 2 and 3 - these categories apply to almost all domestic firework use. They exclude the novelty/indoor items that are classified in Category 1, but include all legal mainstream domestic adult fireworks save for those in Category 4.

Category 4 this applies to fireworks which are to be used only by fireworks professionals (a ‘professional’ is defined a legal entity who has full insurance coverage, licenced premises in which to store the fireworks and the requisite skill to meet the legal requirement). These fireworks are highly dangerous to non-professional consumers.

Fireworks law is very prescriptive. The following are offences:

  • The supply of adult fireworks to anyone under the age of 18;
  • The possession of Category 2, 3 or 4 fireworks by anyone under the age of 18;
  • The possession of Category 4 fireworks by a non-professional;
  • The discharging/disposing of any live firework on a public highway or public space.

Furthermore, the times when fireworks can be used legally are limited. They must not be set off at any time between 11pm and 7am with the exceptions of the following days, when the ‘curfews’ are slightly extended:

  • Bonfire Night, when the cut off time is midnight;
  • New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali, when the deadline is 1am.

The penalties for using fireworks during the above mentioned prohibited times are severe depending on the nature of the offence(s), the offender can face up to 6 months imprisonment and a considerable fine.

If you are facing fireworks charges or have any questions generally, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or complete the form on this page, and one of JMW’s expert criminal defence lawyers will be in touch.

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Peter Grogan is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchester in our Business Crime, Regulation & Driving Offences department

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