New Laws To Target Rogue Traders

Consumer Protection

29.05.2008

Companies are being advised to seek legal advice to ensure their compliance with new consumer protection laws which have just come into force.

The new Consumer Protection Regulations will ban 31 types of unfair sales practices outright and tighten controls on traders ranging from double-glazing salesmen to fortune tellers.

The rules, which will be enforced by the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards, are in response to an EU directive requiring all businesses to treat customers fairly.

The move closes loopholes that rogue traders have previously been able to exploit, and means that businesses breaking the law face substantial fines and prison sentences, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

"What the regulations are designed to do is make sure that any commercial practice that looks unfair and likely to harm consumers in their pockets will be illegal," said Andy Millmore, a partner at London law firm Harbottle and Lewis.

"What is significant is the sweeping nature of the regulations," he said, "effectively criminalising actions that might in the past have escaped legal censure, even if they may perhaps have been covered by industry voluntary codes."

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