What’s that pain between your shoulders? It’s the Trading Standards’ knife in your back!

legal_updates

Trading Standards are meant to provide help and suggestions to ensure future compliance.

Author: Jason Williams
Published:
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We recently advised a client who had been approached by their local Trading Standards office as they were seeking to “consult” with our client under the Enterprise Act 2002.

This action by Trading Standards tends to happen when it appears that a business is breaking its obligations under the plethora of consumer “protection” laws that businesses are expected to comply with.

Trading Standards are meant to provide help and suggestions to ensure future compliance and to reduce the number of complaints the Citizens Advice Bureau put through to them, irrespective of merit.

Our client was not being “investigated” for any alleged criminal offences.

We were unhappy with Trading Standards’ vague allegation  of our client’s supposed wrongdoing, so we arranged to meet with them.  However, in the interim, our client moved premises and out of the area covered by that particular Trading Standards office. This had been a long-standing intention of our client that happened sooner than anticipated.

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HOWEVER, what we did not know, was that Trading Standards notified the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for their involvement, who wrote to our client stating the below:

“Under SUP 15.3.15 (3) of the Supervision section of the FCA handbook, as an FCA authorised firm, you are required to notify the FCA immediately if: “disciplinary measures or sanctions have been imposed on the firm by any statutoryor regulatory authority, competition authority, professional organisation or trade body (other than the FCA) or the firm becomes aware that one of those bodies has started an investigation into its affairs;” Annex 4 of SUP 15 contains a from which should be used by firms to submit such notifications to the FCA.”

Whilst we did not agree that a “consultation” amounted to an “investigation”, the point remains that when any regulatory or statutory body “starts an investigation” into the affairs of your business, then you are advised to notify the FCA on the appropriate form or seek advice from either us or from the FCA, if you are in any doubt. Of course, if your business is free from FCA regulation, then this legal update does not apply.

It would have been appreciated if Trading Standards had told our client to contact the FCA, especially as they had taken it upon themselves to alert the FCA of their own involvement with our client. Also, rather than to hold out a persona of “we want to help you comply”, Trading Standards should have been upfront and told our client they were going to notify the FCA.

Trading Standards’ conduct has been duly noted and this writer has a good memory.

Jason Williams

Legal Advisor

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