Standing Committee Meeting in Zurich

Zurich (14 April 2010): The 66th meeting of the Standing Committee, set up under the Hallmarking Convention, too place in Zurich (Switzerland) on 13 April 2010. The meeting was hosted by the Swiss Assay Office and chaired by Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office), assisted by Mr. Bjarne Bang Christensen (Denmark), Deputy Chairman.

The meeting was attended by 63 officials representing 30 countries of which 18 Contracting States to the Convention (Cyprus was not represented), 1 Applicant State (the Ukraine) as well as 11 guests (a record number) coming from Bahrain, Bosnia-Herzegovina (first-time attendance), Bulgaria (first-time attendance), China, Croatia, Iceland, Italy, Mauritius (first-time attendance), Romania, Serbia and South Africa (first-time attendance). Croatia, Italy and Serbia reported that they were currently consulting their respective governments on the possibility to lodge a membership application.

The Committee took note that the 2001 Amendment to the Convention had entered into force on 27 February 2010 following the successful ratification by Lithuania, the last of the 19 Contracting States to ratify the Amendment. The latter introduces amongst other matters palladium as a precious metal under the Convention (the new palladium Common Control Mark [CCM] was notified to the World Intellectual Property Organisation [WIPO]). The amendment also entitles the Standing Committee to adopt decisions on technical matter. Based on the amended Article 10(2) of the Convention, the Committee adopted a compilation of technical recommendations (formerly known as "Schedules") as "decisions on technical matter".

The Committee also agreed in principle on a revision of the Convention's Annexes, which will have to be submitted to the consent of all Contracting States. Denmark expressed reservations on one particular point of the revision (the combined CCM-fineness mark), where a compromise text must first be agreed before the proposed revision is officially communicated to all Contracting States by the Convention's Depositary, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affaires. 

As the Convention's Annexes define the main technical principles under the Convention, the related compilation of technical decisions was also revised and agreed upon in principle. The revised decisions will enter into force at a later stage together with the revised Convention's Annexes.

These two revisions will allow the hallmarking of multimetal articles under the Convention. They will also introduce the possibility to combine the CCM & fineness marks (subject to conditions), a minimum size for all CCM, solder for palladium, etc.

The Committee also reviewed statistics on the number of articles marked with the CCM as well as the operation of the Convention in general (e.g. consultations between Assay Offices, fake CCM, etc.). Members also agreed on a checklist of requirements, which an independent Assay Office, authorised under the Convention, must fulfil as well as on a list of essential analytical and marking equipment. The Committee mandated the Standing Technical Group, a Sub-Committee under the Convention, to elaborate good practices for XRF marking.

Members agreed to reconvene in Tel Aviv (Israel) on 11 October 2010 and then in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2011.

The meeting was followed by a meeting of The International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).

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