Trading standards investigations and prosecutions
Trading Standards prosecutions or investigations can place a huge strain on a business and its key personnel. In some instances, convictions against individuals can result in the imposition of a custodial sentence. Taking expert legal advice at the outset can often make all the difference.
At Brett Wilson LLP we have extensive experience in representing companies and individuals facing Trading Standards investigations or who have been accused of trading standards offences. We guide our clients through the process and focus on helping them achieve the best possible outcome. We are recognised for our expertise in this area and are listed in the Legal 500 as a leading firm in the field of criminal litigation, criminal fraud and civil fraud. If you would like more information on our expertise in this area, or you wish to speak to a specialist trading standard solicitor, contact us now. Please send us an email, complete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 7183 8950.
What is Trading Standards?
Local authorities employ Trading Standards Officers to investigate consumer complaints and enforce legislation relating to the protection of consumers. The relevant legislation covers a number of different areas including:-
- Unfair commercial practices
- Counterfeit goods/trademark infringement
- Weights and measures
- Under-age sales (e.g. tobacco and alcohol)
- Consumer contract regulations (governing distance selling)
- Animal welfare
- Consumer safety
- Fraudulent activity
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
These regulations are far-reaching and place a general duty on traders not to employ unfair commercial practices such as high-pressure selling. Schedule 1 of the Regulations is a non-exhaustive list of 31 commercial practices that will always be considered unfair. The list covers particular practices relating to codes of conduct, advertising, after-sales services, pyramid schemes, closing down sales, products claiming to cure illnesses, prizes and free items.
Related legislation designed to protect businesses can be found in The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.
Trading Standards Officers Powers
Trading Standards officers have a number of investigative powers. In some circumstances these extend to seizing and detaining goods. They do not have powers of arrest, but where they suspect a trading standards offences or a criminal offence has been committed they can request the assistance of the police in order to arrest a suspect.
One investigative tool available to Trading Standards officers is ‘mystery shopping’ – the ability to pose as a consumer.
Trading Standard Investigations
If Trading Standards raise a concern with you about the way your business is operating then you should take independent legal advice, preferably prior to responding to any allegation.
Trading Standards will sometimes wish to interview individuals ‘under caution’, at the local authority offices or sometimes at a police station. We can attend such interviews with you. You cannot be compelled to answer questions. In many instances it will be possible to address concerns raised or negotiate formal or informal agreements/undertakings about future conduct. In cases where a trading standards prosecution ensues, we can represent you and/or your company in any court proceedings.
Contact the Brett Wilson Trading Standards Investigation Defence team
We offer fixed-fee preliminary consultations. A consultation will help you understand the legal and practical issues relating to your case and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take.