36 Consumer: An Introduction
36 Consumer, the 36 Group's Consumer Law and Trading Standards Team, has many years experience and has been involved in some of the most complex, important and impacting consumer law cases. The leading textbook for consumer lawyers – 'Consumer and Trading Standards: Law & Practice' – has four authors that are members of Chambers. The team has 11 members, including 3 Silks and has the depth and breadth of expertise and experience to deal with the full range of consumer law and trading standards work.
Our team has significant experience of prosecuting on behalf of both local authorities and private prosecutors in the area of consumer law, trading standards and intellectual property, including in relation to the following:
- The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
- The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008
- The Trade Marks Act 1994
- The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988
- Food Labelling and Safety
- Product Safety
- Animal Health and Welfare
- Environmental Trading Standards
- Age Restricted Sales
- Fraud (including Conspiracies to Defraud) and Fraudulent Trading
- Money Laundering and Confiscation
In addition, we regularly defend companies, company directors and individuals facing criminal consumer law charges. Recent criminal cases of note conducted by members of the team include, inter alia, the following:
- Operation Icarus (Ongoing) - Prosecution for alleged Fraudulent Trading and CPUTR offencesin relation to companies providing 'Meet and Greet' parking services at Manchester Airport.
- Leicestershire County Council v Betts (2018) - Prosecution for Fraudulent Trading of owner of company defrauding vulnerable consumers in relation to the servicing and repair of Dyson vacuum cleaners. Defendant sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.
- Leicester City Council v. Buckley and Somewear Ltd (2018) - Prosecution of company and sole director in relation to the production and sale of clothing bearing registered trade marks from city centre shop premises and online. Confiscation order made requiring the Defendant to pay in excess of £500,000.
- Suffolk County Council v Hayward (2018) - Prosecution of Farmer for Animal Welfare offences, including causing unnecessary suffering to cattle, and Animal By-products offences. The Defendant’s neglect of the care of his livestock had resulted in the deaths of 56 cattle, whose remains had been left to decompose in slurry.
- Westminster County Council v Akhundzada and Others (2018) - The prosecution of a trader for the sale of a wide range of counterfeit goods from a central London retail establishment.
- Suffolk County Council v Energie Direct Ltd (2018) - The Prosecution of a company and its director for unfair trading offences committed in the sale of heating systems to elderly vulnerable consumers.
- Leicestershire County Council v Kakamorad and Others (2018) - The Prosecution of a number of defendants connected with the sale of counterfeit and illicit tobacco from a retail premises in Loughborough, and the large-scale warehousing of those goods.
- Leicester City Council v. Rohman and Others (2017) - Prosecution of the largest ever UK food substitution fraud trial, attracting national press attention, and resulting in sentences of 5 years imprisonment for those convicted. The conspiracy to defraud involved the importation of over 100,000kg of turkey meat that was not certified as Halal, which was then sold on nationally to Islamic meat businesses as Halal lamb and was estimated to have netted over £750k. In addition to careful consideration of aspects of the Food Safety Act and Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations, the case gave rise to particularly sensitive issues arising from targeting by the defendants of the Islamic community in East Midlands for sale of non-Halal meat.
- Oxfordshire County Council v Manley and RAD Trading (2017) - Defence of the UK’s biggest manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of notorious Legal High/New Psychoactive Substances. The prosecution was brought using General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
- Cheshire East Council v. Doherty (2017) - Prosecution of doorstep criminal for fraud following his attempts to obtain in excess of £25,000 from elderly and vulnerable females living alone for wholly unnecessary works to their homes. Defendant sentenced to 32 months imprisonment.
- West Berkshire Council v O’Hea and Vintage Cowboy Ltd (2017) - Prosecution of limited company and director for sale of counterfeit trainers under the Trade Marks Act 1994. Contested confiscation proceedings resulted in a confiscation order of just under £80,000.
- London Borough of Waltham Forest v Wu (2017) - Prosecution of trader for the sale of counterfeit car wheel and bonnet badges under the Trade Marks Act 1994. The prosecution case was that W had been marketing and selling counterfeit badges on a significant scale through Ebay and Paypal accounts. Confiscation Proceedings are ongoing.
- Leicestershire County Council v Black (2016) - Prosecution under s. 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and under the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, involving the unauthorised slaughter of animals which had not been stunned, thereby causing unnecessary suffering.
- Northamptonshire County Council v Garcha (2016) - The prosecution of a letting agent for a variety of fraud and fraudulent trading offences connected to the operation of his business, and the protracted confiscation proceedings which followed.
- Norfolk County Council v Hambury and Wyatt (2015) - Prosecution of two retailers of Legal High’/New Psychoactive Substances for selling unsafe products under General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
- Rutland County Council v Rapide Security Ltd and Hare (2015) - Prosecution of security company and director (represented by QC) for aggressive commercial practices contrary to Reg 7 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
- Hertfordshire County Council v. Soni (2015) - Defence of “manager” of restaurant in relation to food fraud case prosecuted under section 14 of the Food Safety Act 1990. The case involved horsemeat being sold as “Zebra steaks” and venison being sold as “Wildebeest steaks”.
- Operation Brimstone (2014): Prosecuting alone for Leicestershire Trading Standards Service. 6 week trial. £800,000 rogue trader fraud: Click Here
Our team members pride themselves on an ability to manage cases and ensure best presentation before the courts. Our team’s knowledge and expertise frequently provides us with an advantage over generalist legal practitioners.
The Enterprise Act 2002
Enforcement Orders under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act are an important feature of consumer protection legislation. Part 8 enables injunctive action to be taken against businesses infringing a wide range of consumer protection legislation, often as an alternative to criminal prosecution.
Our team has lectured various general enforcers on best practice and procedure when applying for orders and has appeared in several of the most high profile cases. Recent cases include, inter alia, the following:
- Brighton and Hove City Council v Towers Property Development – The first Part 8 case and CPUT case against a land banking company.
- Hertfordshire County Council v Wendy Fair Markets – An on–going case alleging breaches of the Unfair Trading Regulations by market operators in relation to the widespread sale of counterfeit goods.
- Bedford Borough Council v Express Plumbing Ltd – An on–going case alleging multiple breaches of the Unfair Trading Regs by plumbers. The case has been featured on BBC Watchdog.
Our team has experience appearing for Enforcers, Claimants and Defendants in consumer cases in relation to unfair contract terms, unfair trading and product liability, amongst others.
In addition to civil enforcement proceedings under the Enterprise Act 2002, members have particular experience of the rights of the use of enhanced consumer measures under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, together with the private rights to redress under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Compliance and Advisory Work
Team members are frequently brought in to cases by enforcers at a very early stage in order to advise on evidence gathering, charges and the general direction of a case.
Additionally, we advise companies on their policies and commercial practices to ensure compliance with consumer protection legislation, and on potential litigation, in both the criminal and civil jurisdictions.
Geographical Presence and Accessibility
As we are a London based set with a strong Midland Circuit history and presence we routinely work throughout London, the South–East and the Midlands. Our unrivalled experience and expertise sees members instructed in the more complicated cases nationwide. Members of the team will travel wherever necessary and will conduct conferences at solicitors’ offices when this is more convenient. We can provide representation at all levels and in all courts.
As a team, we hold regular meetings with emphasis on shared experience and in–house training. We are active lecturers and provide seminars at the annual Trading Standards Institute Conference, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group Conference and to local authorities and solicitors.
As well as being counsel of choice for many local authorities and specialist solicitors throughout the country, our barristers also accept instructions directly under the Direct Public Access scheme.