17 June, 2008
On 26 May 2008 the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) came into force.
The CPRs apply to all business to consumer transactions. They specifically ban outright 31 types of unfair sales and marketing practices including:
They will also for the first time, establish a catch-all duty not to trade unfairly, closing loopholes that rogue traders have previously been able to exploit. Essentially, for a practice to be prohibited it must be of an unacceptable standard as well as there being an effect (or a likelihood of such) on the economic behaviour of the typical consumer - for example leading the typical consumer to buy a product that they would not otherwise have bought.
The legislation significantly increases the powers available to the authorities to crack down on offenders. Enforcement agency officers will be allowed to enter business premises without having a warrant and seize goods and documents. In addition, an authorised officer will have the right to break open containers of any type (e.g. locked filing cabinet) to examine goods or documents where there is reasonable suspicion that a breach of the CPRs has been committed. Breach of the law can lead to substantial fines and/or imprisonment.