For the most part, Trading Standards Officers do a good job in protecting the public and bringing the “bad boys” (and girls!) to task.
Regrettably, a significant minority like the power that they believe they have and start throwing it about somewhat recklessly.
Take the officer from one Scottish Trading Standards who descended upon our clients’ business wholly uninvited. The heinous crime seemingly committed by the garage was that they allegedly sold a car without their complainant being told that the car was once a “Cat C” and had been an insurance write off. Our client showed them the advert on Auto Trader stating it to be so but the Officer was adamant that the consumer had not seen the advert and was not told it whilst at the garage. Our client was equally as adamant that it was made clear to the intended buyer that this was the case, even pointing out the area that they believed had caused the vehicle to become a “CAT C” before proper repair.
I asked to speak to the Trading Standards Officer whose behaviour was aggressive and obnoxious. She was going to ensure that this case was going to result in her legal dept referring it to the Procurator Fiscal (the equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service) and that a successful prosecution was inevitable. But it never was!
For some time later, our client received a letter from Trading Standards simply saying that THEY had determined that our client had committed an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 – specifically a misleading omission and THEY were writing to give our client a caution for it!
Fuelled by this outcome, their complainant issued separate legal proceedings to reject the car on the grounds that it had been misrepresented/misdescribed by not mentioning the Category C recording. A claim denied by our client. At the Sheriff’s court the claim was DISMISSED entirely and indeed, under cross-examination by the Sheriff, the complainant had to admit that he was not even present at the material time and that the car had actually been sold to his parents who had visited the garage! As the parents were not in court they were incapable of being challenged and upon considering all of the points brought before the court, the Sheriff stated that there was little choice other than to find in favour of our client.