Rated criminal solicitor defending those accused by Trading Standards Services of unfair commercial practices

The term “unfair commercial practices” is used to refer to a number of criminal offences created by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, including a general prohibition against business activities that are not professionally diligent and materially distort, or are likely to materially distort, the economic behaviour of the average consumer. If you or your business are being investigated for such a complaint, you should seek the advice of a leading business crime solicitor, like Jim Meyer, who specialises in defending those who are being investigated by a local authority’s Trading Standards Services (“TSS”).

👉 You want to achieve the best possible result 👈

  • Avoid any enforcement action altogether
  • Avoid damaging court proceedings
  • Avoid criminal conviction
  • Mitigate sentence

Call Jim Meyer

Assembling the right legal team to advise and actively defend you will be one of the most important actions that you take.

Jim Meyer will do all that he can to ensure the best possible outcome.

Jim has over 27 years' years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer; he knows the tactics employed by TSS and if you are facing an enforcement action or prosecution he can provide expert advice at every stage. This includes:

  • Gathering evidence;
  • Attending an interview under caution;
  • Providing written statements;
  • Representing you at Court; and
  • Protecting the future of your business following an investigation or prosecution by the regulator.
It goes without saying that if a business is convicted it faces reputational damage and a potentially ruinous unlimited financial penalty; individuals who are found guilty risk a “directors’ disqualification” but worse than that they can be imprisoned for up to 2 years. You also need to be aware that a local authority TSS can (and does) opt for prosecutions under mainstream criminal legislation, most notably the Fraud Act 2006, and instructing Jim to defend you may make all the difference to the outcome:

  • There are statutory defences that can be deployed;
  • There are time limits that the prosecuting authority needs to observe.

The bottom line is that you need to manage the risk of TSS scrutiny by engaging expert legal advice; even if it is simply to limit the damage of an adverse finding, there are things that can be done.

Relevant case law in relation to unfair commercial practices

[2020] EWHC 799 (Admin)
[2020] EWHC 799 (Admin)
DC (Hickinbottom LJ, Swift J)
6 April 2020

It was a criminal offence for a shop to offer food for sale after its labelled use by date. The words "deemed to be unsafe" in Regulation 1169/2011 art.24 created an irrebuttable presumption that food placed on the market with an expired use by date was "unsafe" for the purposes of Regulation 179/2002 art.14.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1889
[2019] EWCA Crim 1889
CA (Crim Div) (Simon LJ, Moulder J, Judge Thomas QC)
29 October 2019

In respect of alleged offences of fraud and engaging in an unfair commercial practice, a judge had correctly concluded that the enforceability of late payment and cancellation fees relating to the supply of domestic Energy Performance Certificates was a matter for him to determine. There was no legitimate interest in the charging of disproportionate late payment fees for the supply of the certificates.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1112
[2016] EWCA Crim 1112
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Thomas LCJ, Spencer J, Simler J)
12 May 2016

A company selling reclining armchairs to vulnerable customers, and its director, had their convictions for engaging in unfair commercial practices upheld. The director had connived in an aggressive commercial practice when he sent a letter to a 75-year-old disabled woman stating that she would only receive a refund if the offer of the refund and the settlement amount remained confidential.

[2014] EWCA Crim 621
[2014] EWCA Crim 621
CA (Crim Div) (Fulford LJ, Holroyde J, Judge Lakin)
3 April 2014

In the case of a car trader guilty of falsely claiming or creating the impression that he was not acting for purposes relating to his trade, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, it was proportionate to base a confiscation order on the turnover, rather than merely the profit, on the sale of 58 cars he sold as a private seller. His entire enterprise was characterised by his deliberate misrepresentations intended to meet his objective of avoiding having to provide a warranty.

[2013] EWCA Crim 818
[2013] EWCA Crim 818
CA (Crim Div) (Leveson LJ, Foskett J, Sir Geoffrey Grigson)
23 May 2013

The phrase "commercial practice" as used in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 could, depending on the circumstances, cover either a single incident or a pattern of repeated behaviour.

[2012] EWHC 2927 (Admin)
[2012] EWHC 2927 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Collins J)
11 October 2012

A magistrates' court had been wrong, when determining an offender's mode of trial for offences contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 reg.9 and reg.11, in applying fraud sentencing guidelines. Those offences were not based on dishonesty and had no sentencing guidelines.

[2012] EWCA Crim 2106
[2012] EWCA Crim 2106
CA (Crim Div) (Rafferty LJ, Mitting J, Sharp J)
7 September 2012

In principle, when assessing loss or damage under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.130 for the purposes of making a compensation order in relation to an offence of aggressive commercial practice committed against a householder, no account had to be taken of any benefit conferred on the victim from any work caused to be or actually carried out by the offender.

[2012] EWHC 1238 (Admin)
[2012] EWHC 1238 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Laws LJ, Owen J)
29 March 2012

Where persons charged with aggravated trespass under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 s.68 sought to show that the offence was not made out because there was no "lawful activity" at the premises in question, that lawful activity had to be considered by reference to acts or events that were integral to the activity itself. In the instant case, the court could not have been expected to adjudicate on the appellants' allegations that the company that ran the shop in which they had conducted a protest was complicit in war crimes.

CC (Cambridge) (Judge Moloney QC)
10 September 2010

A district judge had been entitled to dismiss the credit hire element of a claimant's claim for damages following a road traffic accident where (i) as the credit hire agreement for a replacement vehicle had been made between the credit hire company and the claimant at the latter's home, the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer's Home or Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008 applied to the agreement; (ii) the Regulations rendered the agreement unenforceable because the credit hire company had failed to provide the claimant with a cancellation notice as required by the Regulations; (iii) that in turn disentitled the claimant from recovering from the defendant sums otherwise due from him to the credit hire company.

[2001] EWHC Admin 253
[2001] EWHC Admin 253
DC (Astill J, Kennedy LJ)
16 March 2001

An offence could be committed under s.20(1) Consumer Protection Act 1987 without any evidence to prove that an indication by means of a notice applied to specific goods available at a specific price. * Leave to appeal to the House of Lords refused.

QBD (Admin) (Waller LJ, Sir Edwin Jowitt)
21 December 2000

A retailer who refused to honour a price promise was not guilty of an offence under s.20(2) Consumer Protection Act 1987.

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