Trading standards: Advice to businesses
Some common legislation applicable to traders. For more information on this legislation and other legislation relevant to your business please select the business guidance leaflets
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (the CPRs) came into force on 26 May 2008 and implements the European Union-wide Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD). The aim of the UCPD is to harmonise consumer protection laws across the European Union to prevent business practices that are unfair to consumers and all Member States are introducing equivalent legislation. The Regulations replace a lot of consumer protection legislation including Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (which dealt with misleading prices), the majority of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, and the Control of Misleading Advertising Regulations 1988.
The CPRs cover commercial practices between traders and consumers - 'acts, omissions, course of conduct, representation or commercial communication (including advertising and marketing) by a trader, which is directly connected with the promotion, sale or supply of a product to or from consumers, whether occurring before, during or after a commercial transaction (if any) in relation to a product'. A 'product' is any goods or service and includes rights and obligations.
For further information see Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations on the Office of Fair Trading website
Business Names –Companies Act 2006
Businesses are still required to give details of their business name and principal place of business on all correspondence, invoices etc. There are additional requirements for the provision of information under the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 and the Consumer Protection (Distant Selling) Regulations 2002
The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977
This legislation restricts a trader's ability to use contract terms to limit their legal and contractual liabilities. In consumer contracts, traders cannot limit or exclude liability for breaches of the implied terms as to description, quality and fitness for purpose of goods. In addition, any attempt to mislead the consumer about their rights is an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999
These regulations, which only apply to consumer contracts, say that a consumer is not bound by a standard term in a contract with a trader if that term is unfair. The regulations do not apply to terms negotiated with individual consumers, nor do they apply to the core subject matter of the contract (such as the description of the goods/services, and the price).
Unsolicited Goods and Services Act
Under the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971,(as amended) it is an offence to demand payment for goods known to be unsolicited, in other words, they were sent to a person without any prior request made by them or on their behalf. Someone who receives goods in these circumstances may retain them as an unconditional gift, and does not have to pay for or return an unwanted goods.
All business should be vigilant to the possibility of invoices for both goods and services they have not ordered. Many such demands come from abroad.
Enterprise Act 2002
Under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act, Trading Standards and other bodies responsible for consumer law enforcement, have stronger powers to seek court orders against businesses who breach certain consumer protection laws. Before taking court action , Trading Standards and other enforcement bodies will always invite the trader concerned to respond to the allegations against them, and they will be able to give binding commitments (undertakings) instead of going to court.
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