For companies being investigated by trading standards, this can be a huge strain on the business. There are not only strict punishments for business but for key players in the business as well. For individuals found guilty of trading standard offences the punishment can include a prison sentence.
Trading standards enforcement powers is rooted in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Most importantly Schedule 1 of the regulations is a non-exhaustive list of 31 offences commercial practices considered to be unfair. However, as this is a non-exhaustive list a practice can still be considered unfair for the purposes of trading standards even if it is not included in the regulations.
What are trading standards?
Trading standards are often a branch of your local authority who are called upon to investigate consumer complaints. Some of the areas in which trading standards powers extend to include:
- Unfair commercial practice
- Animal welfare
- Consumer safety
- Under-age sales
- Consumer contract regulations
- Fraudulent activity
- Trademark infringement
- Weights and measures
The trading standards officer has a number of different powers depending on the circumstances and violation in question. For example, for a trademark infringement the office may seize control and detain the offending goods.
Some trading standards offences are classed as criminal offences and carry prison sentences. The trading standards officer does not however, have the power of arrest and must ask the police for their assistance in any criminal investigations.