A Primer on UK Consumer Protection Regulations

Most people in the modern world believe that a trader will do anything to save money as well as get more profit. The inherent nature of business i.e. making profits precludes any other belief. However, making money while the end user also benefits is one thing and making money at the expense of the end user is quite another. Despite this, there are traders in the country that try to cut corners or make false claims so as to either save money on the production end or get more profits on the sales end. The big question is where is the line that will help people determine that certain practices are going too far. This is where the UK Consumer Protection Regulations become relevant.

What Are UK Consumer Protection Regulations?

Consumer RightsUK Consumer Protection Regulations were put in place to protect the rights of the consumer from various practices in the business world that are judged to be unfair. They are specified in Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations of 2008, which replaced the Trade Descriptions Act of 1968. The purpose of introducing this Act was to make the consumer protection rules similar across various countries of Europe.

UK Consumer Protection Regulations prohibit certain unfair commercial practices of traders or manufacturers against the end users. There are, essentially, four different types of practices that these regulations either ban entirely or put limitations on. Being aware of these regulations can benefit you because this knowledge would allow you to know what a trader can promise, what he cannot, and whether you have been wronged. Consider the following four categories of unfair commercial practices.

Practices Prohibited In All Circumstances

There are 31 different types of unfair practices that this category includes as mentioned in the Schedule 1 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. These can largely be categorised into seven subcategories. These are.

  1. False claims regarding authorisations and endorsements
  2. Making other types of false claims regarding business or product
  3. Misleading advertisements for unavailable products
  4. Being connected to pyramid schemes on a commercial level
  5. Misleading prize related promotions or schemes
  6. Using aggressive sales methods
  7. Placing unreasonable demands in front of a consumer

Each of these practices is banned under all circumstances, irrespective of context, situation, or niche market.

Misleading Actions and Misleading Omissions

UK Consumer Protection Regulations also prohibit any misleading actions and misleading omissions on the part of traders. These actions and omissions are classified on the basis of whether they are true or not and whether they have changed the final decision of the end user. These prohibitions do not only relate to the purchase of a product but also the pitch before the purchase and the service rendered after the purchase.

Misleading actions can be subcategorised under three types which are providing misleading information, creating false impressions with competing products, and not standing true to commitments made in code of conduct. Misleading omissions in the UK Consumer Protection Regulations prohibit traders from hiding information that may have an impact on the consumer’s decision. Misleading omissions include not specifying commercial intent or making it obvious in context, hiding material information, removing material information, and even providing material information in a manner that is difficult to understand.

Aggressive Commercial Practices

UK Consumer Protection RegulationsUK Consumer Protection Regulations also prohibit aggressive commercial practices. Any practice that amounts to the intimidation of consumers or their exploitation to a point at which they lose their freedom of choice regarding commercial transaction can be classified under this category. There are various things that must be taken into account to determine whether a commercial practice can be called aggressive. Consider the following.

  1. Level of persistence, location, and timing of the pitch
  2. The behaviour and the use of language
  3. Context, as in situation of personal misfortune
  4. Placement of non-contractual barriers for benefit
  5. Threat of legal action when not viable

General Prohibition of Unfair Commercial Practices

Specified under the UK Consumer Protection Regulations, this can also be seen as the general duty of trader to not trade unfairly. This section of the UK Consumer Protection Regulations is designed to give power to enforcers to penalise or punish unfair practices that do not clearly fall into any of the categories mentioned above. Practices which may warrant such action are defined as practices against reasonable expectations. This section of the Consumer Protection Regulations is flexible which allows the regulations to be flexible in case future commercial environment changes.

If a trader’s commercial practices qualify under any one of the above categories, then you as a consumer have the right to take him to court and seek recompense. The best example of this can be seen in the first case that was tried under these conditions. The first company, Safe Style, was docked a combined sum of 22, 000 pounds for repeatedly going to a consumer in 2011.