Legal Background of Consumer Protection in the UK
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) put in place a more comprehensive framework for dealing with sharp practices and rogue traders than was in place before.
The CPRs prohibit traders in all sectors from engaging in unfair commercial practices against consumers and set out rules that determine when commercial practices are unfair.
The rules fall into three categories:
The first two categories of commercial practice which are caught by the prohibition are principles-based; they apply only if the effect of the trader’s practice is likely to alter a consumer’s decision in relation to that product.
James Lake, Prosecuting Counsel for West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS) and Derek Hallam of Henry Hyams Solicitors secured one of the longest sentences known for a WYTS case of this nature.
The investigation into Mr Morrison and Mr Towers’ company’s poor workmanship – and failure to refund deposits – turned out to be the worst case of rogue trading that officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards had ever come across.
Morrison and Towers were charged with offences under the Consumer Protection and Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) and the Fraud Act 2006. Guilty pleas were accepted by the defendant, Morrison and Towers on the first day of the trial at Leeds Crown Court.
During sentencing, prosecuting barrister James Lake told the Court: ‘The evidence demonstrates the unscrupulous, disreputable and persistent manner in which the defendants conducted their business. Rather than care to avoid entering into contracts with vulnerable and elderly people, Morrison and Towers sought out these people as customers, as they were easy targets’.
Morrison and Towers were sentenced to four years and three months’ imprisonment, with Judge James Spencer QC stating that the starting point for sentencing was five years, which was reduced by 15 per cent for their early plea.
Alun Jones, a Barrister instructed by West Yorkshire Trading Standards, helped secure the conviction and sentence of HPAS Limited of Bradford who trade as Safestyle UK. They have been fined £120,000 at Sheffield Crown Court having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to multiple offences of breaching consumer protection legislation repeated across the country, some offending involving elderly or vulnerable people.
The conviction was secured by the West Yorkshire Financial Exploitation and Abuse Team (WYFEAT), which is a multi-agency partnership between West Yorkshire Trading Standards, West Yorkshire Police, Adult Social Care professionals and supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, with the aim of combating rogue traders who prey on the vulnerable. The fine imposed on the company which manufactures and installs uPVC windows and doors, is the highest imposed in the county for breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The company were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £52,393.00.
The company which claims to be the ‘UK’s Number One Supplier of Replacement uPVC Windows and Doors’ pleaded guilty to offences of using sales practices which were aggressive, misleading or banned.
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