For almost 15 years the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 have safeguarded consumers from unfair, misleading, or aggressive selling practices.
The Regulations were implemented under the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and although the UK has left the EU, the Regulations remain in force as retained EU law.
Who is affected by the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations?
The Regulations apply to business to consumer transactions.
Business owners need to be aware that conduct before, during, and after a particular transaction is made can be covered by the Regulations. Business to business transactions that are closely related to a consumer purchase can also be covered, for example, a business selling products to a hair salon for customer use must ensure its labelling complies with the Regulations.
What unfair trading practices are covered?
The Regulations contain a list of 31 blacklisted commercial practices that are in all circumstances unfair and thus banned outright. These include:
- Falsely claiming that the trader or product has been endorsed
- Bait and switch advertising
- Falsely stating the product is available
- Pyramid schemes
- Falsely claiming the product is free
Outside of the blacklist, the Regulations state that ‘unfair commercial practices’ are prohibited. The definition has deliberately been left as broad as possible to catch future practices that may be deemed unfair.
A commercial practice is deemed unfair if it does not meet the standard of "professional diligence" (the standard of skill and care that would reasonably be expected of a trader in a similar industry) and it significantly weakens an average consumer's ability to make an informed decision, causing them to make a choice they would not otherwise have made.
The Regulations also prohibit misleading acts or omissions that are likely to cause an average consumer to make a different decision than they would have otherwise made if they had not been misled.
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The Regulations are enforced by the Trading Standards Services (TSS) in England, Wales, and Scotland. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment is responsible for overseeing compliance.
Understanding the Regulations is crucial to avoid inadvertently breaching compliance. If you have any questions regarding the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, click get started below for a free 15-minute consultation with one of our Commercial Lawyers.
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