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I have robustly defended many individuals and companies accused of trading standards breaches and other regulatory offences. I have considerable expertise in trading standards and dealt with some of the largest cases that have been brought against people in the Crown Court. My reputation for hard work, intelligence, and deep understanding for litigation strategy mean that large numbers of the cases I work on are settled prior to any court appearance.
When it comes to investigations by a trading standards authority, I can provide commercially astute advice and assist you with any dealings with the media. Over my career, I have built trusted relationships with many trade law experts, who can provide robust and persuasive evidence to support your case. By instructing me, you can be confident that you have an expert on your side, constantly ensuring your best interests are protected.
Trading standards prosecutions can be brought by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) together with the local authority regulatory body for trading standards. They can also be brought by the Food Standards Agency. These bodies can investigate and prosecute in a number of areas across wholesale or retail businesses. The potential offences include dealing in counterfeit goods, breaching copyright, and breaching trademark regulations. These investigations can have a hugely detrimental effect on business, and it is important that your rights are protected from the outset.
If you are facing an investigation or prosecution in respect of trading standards, I appreciate that often the complex legislation can be bewildering, particularly if you believe that you have done nothing wrong. The detrimental effect on you and your business can be wide-reaching. You may be a manufacturer, a distributor, a retailer or another party to the investigation: regardless of your position, it is important to obtain specialist advice immediately.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 place a duty on traders to behave ethically when dealing with customers and outline penalties should they fail to do so. For example, they forbid ‘misleading actions’ and ‘misleading omissions’ that cause or are likely to result in, the average consumer taking a ‘transactional decision’ they would not have taken otherwise. They also prohibit pyramid schemes and aggressive selling practices and infer a general duty not to trade unfairly.
Although Trading Standards Officers do not have the power of arrest, they can engage police to assist them, should they suspect a criminal offence has been committed. They also have several investigative powers, which include being able to enter your premises (with a warrant) and seize goods. In addition, they can act as a ‘mystery shopper’ to check if a trader is complying with trading standards.
You should never attend a regulatory interview ‘under caution’ without the advice and representation of a legal professional. Trading Standards Officers are experts at drawing out information which may incriminate you in the long term. I will ensure that officers do not exceed their powers and, if possible, address concerns and/or negotiate a formal or informal agreement to ensure the matter ends quickly, without attracting publicity.