Consumer Protection – Regulatory Law Advice

A comprehensive set of rules relating to the relationship between trader and consumer can be found in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

They cover every aspect of a transaction or potential transaction, from advertising to actual purchase. Traders are prohibited from engaging in behaviour including:

  • Misleading omissions: this can arise where ‘material information’ is kept from a customer, e.g. that they are tied in to a contract for a minimum period of time;
  • Aggressive practices: if a customer makes a ‘transactional decision’ (e.g. purchases a product or service) because they were harassed, coerced or unduly influenced, an offence has been committed

It must be shown that the behaviour has either directly influenced a customer’s decision, or that it would be likely to do so.

Defences are available- for example, the offence of due diligence may be relied upon where the trader can show that they took all reasonable precautions. What is ‘reasonable’ can be very much case specific, as can whether an offence has been committed in the first place.

Our page on Trading Standards cases also provides useful information in this area, as the body often takes charge of investigations and prosecutions where the Regulations are said to have been breached.