If you or your company is facing investigation or prosecution for trading standards offences, contact the expert criminal defence team at Qamar Solicitors. We are highly experienced in trading standards law, with a team of lawyers who have dealt with some of the largest cases that have been in the Crown Court.
Local authorities have extremely wide powers of investigating and prosecuting trading standards breaches. Individuals and businesses can suffer serious consequences for their businesses and it is imperative that early legal advice and representation is taken to minimise the effects on you, your family and your business’s finances and reputation.
We advise and represent clients across a wide range of trading standards offences including:
Weights and measurements
Product safety and product recall
Consumer credit and contracts
Supply of age restricted products to minors
Trading Standards law was introduced in 2008 to deal with unfair commercial practices and unethical and immoral sales techniques. There are 31 practices which the law specifically prohibits, ranging from false endorsement and misleading availability, to pyramid schemes and aggressive sales, such as door stop selling. All of these constitute criminal offences.
Criminal prosecutions for trading standards offences can be commenced by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) (through the local authority) and the Food Standards Agency.
An investigation can be prompted for a number of reasons. There may have been a complaint from a member of the public, an individual may have fallen ill or been injured as a result of a food product or a defective product, or a test purchase of a product revealed a breach of trading standards law.
Offences under trading standards law
There are a number of potential offences with which an individual or a company could be charged under trading standards legislation, including dealing in counterfeit goods, copyright infringement and breaching trademarks regulations.
Investigations are likely to include a formal, recorded interview under caution. Other evidence will also be examined including documentary and digital evidence, export reports and witness statements. It is important you understand at the outset what your rights and obligations are, and what powers the investigating authority has. Contact us immediately so we can assist you early in the investigation to enable you to have a robust chance of avoiding prosecution.
It is important to know that individuals within a business, a sole trader or a partner, for instance, will be held personally liable for an offence. If a company is under investigation or facing prosecution – individual company directors (and other officers) can also be found personally liable for breaches. The company can also face prosecution as a separate legal entity. Whether you are a manufacturer, a distributor or retailer, or another party caught up in an investigation, our specialist solicitors can assist.
Prosecution and penalties
Trading standards prosecutions are started in the Magistrates’ Court. In serious cases, they will be sent to the Crown Court.
The potential penalties on conviction are high: magistrates can impose a fine of up to £5,000 (per offence) and or a prison sentence of up to 6 months per offence) up to a maximum of 12 months in prison. The Crown Court can impose unlimited fines and or several years in prison.
How can we help?
The criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors are experienced at all levels of trading standards investigations and prosecutions. Contact us now for urgent, strategic legal advice and representation to protect you and your business.