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 9 members, including one Silk 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 CPUT 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 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:
- 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.
- 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”.
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 both Claimants and Defendants in cases involving the following core consumer legislation relevant to the civil courts:
- Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977
- Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999
- Distance Selling Regulations 2000
- Cancellation of Contracts Made in a Consumer's Home or Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008
- Package Travel Regulations 1992
- Sale of Goods Act 1979
- Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
- The Consumer Credit Act 1974 and regulations made thereunder
Members of the team are also familiar with the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015
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.