OFT issues guidance on the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

03 December 2008

Rhian Hill

In the May edition of our IT & E-commerce newsletter, we reported on the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which came into force in May. OFT and BERR have issued guidance on how the Regulations are likely to apply. This guidance provides practical examples of the behaviour that is likely to fall under the Regulations.

In May 2008, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 came into force. As this is new legislation, there has been very little guidance as to the exact types of practices that would fall under these Regulations.

However, in August 2008, the Office of Fair Trading and BERR issued joint guidance on the Regulations. The intention of the guidance is to show how the Regulations operate in practice, and it is aimed at traders who have to comply with the Regulations.

The guidance explains the regulatory framework, and then gives practical details surrounding the types of practices that are covered by the Regulations. For example under prohibited practice 10 in Schedule 1 of the Regulations a trader cannot “[present] rights given to consumers in law as a distinctive feature of the trader’s offer”. The guidance gives an example of a type of behaviour that would fall under this practice.

A stationer sells pens. He advertises on the following basis: ‘Pens for sale. If they don’t work I’ll give you your money back or replace them. You won’t find this offer elsewhere’. If the pen is faulty at the time of purchase the consumer would be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement under contract law. The trader’s emphasis on the unique nature of his offer to refund or replace would breach the CPRs.”

Although these examples are illustrative only, they help to provide some information as to the type of conduct that will be caught by the Regulations. However, it should be noted, that only one example is provided for each practice, which means that the detail of how the Regulations would apply in practice are not considered.

BERR has also issued a basic guide to the Regulations, which sets out an overview of the Regulations.