We enforce and advise on legislation designed to protect the consumer from dishonest traders. This assists the vast majority of reputable companies by ensuring fair trading methods for everyone.
We have a wide range of self-help leaflets designed to assist traders in complying with the law, so please use the most relevant link:
This is the national one-stop web site for Trading Standards related information, provides comprehensive free guidance on all aspects of Trading Standards issues. The web site is produced by the Trading Standards Institute. It provides interpreted, simplified and prioritised information, which covers all major Trading Standards legislation. Businesses can view quick guides or more in-depth guides in relation to the legislation that affects their business. Users can obtain e-mail alerts when there are changes to the legislation that affects the particular business.
We carry out routine visits to traders, which takes into account the nature of the business, past problems and the number of complaints received, thereby targeting the problem traders where possible.
We investigate consumer complaints, where there might be a criminal breach, which may involve visiting a trader.
In some cases we may consider it necessary to take enforcement action as a result of problems found during a routine visit or complaint in accordance with the Corporate Enforcement Policy . Where possible the emphasis is placed on compliance through advice and assistance.
If we need to carry out surveillance or obtain information about subscribers to telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, we act in accordance with the corporate policies for compliance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
In many cases we find that traders are not intentionally misleading the public, but are doing so due to a lack of understanding of their legal obligations.
We are here to advise Consumers and Businesses. We believe that educating and informing traders of their obligations could avoid many of the problems businesses encounter, and traders could benefit from good business practice.
In Trading Standards we enforce numerous pieces of primary legislation, the most important ones being:
- The Animal Health Act – prevents the spread of diseases in the animals that form our food
- The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 ensures that descriptions and prices applied to goods and services are accurate, and that businesses deal fairly and honestly with their customers.
- The Consumer Protection Act – protects the safety of the goods we buy
- The Food Safety Act - safeguards what we eat and drink
- The Weights and Measures Act - ensures we all receive the correct quantity when buying goods
If you are thinking of starting a new business or are already running an existing one, are you confident that you meet all the legal requirements of trading legislation? There is further advice on the contractual and legal requirements of traders below.
Are you a trader? Various laws concerning the sale of goods govern how traders conduct their business. Some of these laws still apply to persons who are not traders but sell goods.
When does the law consider you to be a trader?
There is no hard and fast rule, but ask yourself:
- Are the goods you are selling your personal property? If not and you buy goods in specially to resell, for example from newspaper adverts or a cash and carry, you are very likely to be a trader.
- Do you attend boot sales regularly - once every couple of months or more? If so, you are likely to be a trader even if boot sales are not a major source of income.
- Do you employ anyone to help you with sales? If so, you are probably a trader.
- Do you sell similar goods at other venues, e.g. markets, in the street or from home? If so, you are almost certainly a trader.
Traders and the Law
If you don't trade under your own name but as e.g. "Anytown Fruits" you must display clearly your name and address where legal documents could be sent to you. Please use the Companies and Business Names within fair trading for more detailed information on the requirements of the legislation.
Consumer Protection Act
Take great care that everything you sell is safe. Be particularly careful with toys, electrical goods, upholstered furniture and clothing, especially nightwear.
Price Marking Order
Traders must show a price in writing for most goods offered for sale. This can be attached to the goods, or be placed adjacent to them.
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations
Goods must not be misdescribed and traders must not trade in an aggressive manner or outside the requirements of professional diligence.
Trade Marks Act
Before selling recorded or branded items such as CDs, DVDs films or t-shirts, satisfy yourself that they are not counterfeit because heavy penalties can be imposed on anyone who breaches copyright by selling fakes.
Video Recordings Act
Selling DVDs or computer games might be risky because the sale of films or games, which have not been properly classified by the British Board of Film Classification, can attract large fines or a prison sentence. Certain educational, sport and music videos are exempt from this requirement. You are advised to take more detailed advice on the Video Recordings Act before putting films out for sale.
Sale of Goods Act
If you sell something, whether new or second-hand, it should be of satisfactory quality and fit for its purpose. It should also be as you describe it.
If you sell something which does not meet these requirements, your customer has a right to a refund provided they reject goods promptly. S/he might agree to a replacement, but their right is to a refund, and as a trader you should be ready to honour this right. If you are selling something with defects, you can only escape your obligation to provide a refund if you point out the fault at the time of the sale. Doing this doesn't protect you from a claim if the item has further faults.
Unlike the other Acts mentioned, Trading Standards cannot prosecute you for breaking the Act, but you could be sued by your customers.
If you're aot a Trader
If you are a genuine 'non-trader' seller, you will be largely outside the controls of consumer law, but there are exceptions: for example, if you describe goods in any way, and that description proves to be false, you will be obliged to give a refund.
There are things you can do, however, which will help to avoid problems and which we would recommend as 'good practice' during private sales.
We advise consumers to steer clear of items such as electric fires and irons at boot sales, so unless the item has a reputable, recent source we would caution against its sale.
Think twice before selling nightwear. It might well not meet flammability requirements that apply to nightwear sold by traders. Children's' clothing with cords attached can also pose a hazard so beware of selling these if their source and safety is uncertain.
Look toys over to make sure there are no sharp points or small parts that can be pulled off. Put the toy in a skip rather than a sale if it is in bad shape, damaged or very old. If you still have packaging, sell the toy in it.
Other Danger Areas
Caution should be exercised in the sale of the following types of goods. All of them have their own safety standards when sold by traders and you should have them checked carefully before you even think about selling them. Prams and pushchairs. bikes, oil heaters.
Whether you are a regular trader or not, you should be ready to co-operate with trading standards officers who may visit boot sales at any time to carry out inspections, give advice and investigate complaints.
You may wish to visit the following websites that have a wide range of useful Business Advice leaflets and information.
The national business information part of the gov.uk website that provides practical advice and deals with several business aspects.
UK Trade and Investment
A part of thee gov.uk site to enhance the competitiveness of companies in the UK through overseas trade and investments.
Provides full text of most Acts of Parliament.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
DEFRA works for the essentials of life - water, food, air, land, people, animals and plants.
A one stop shop for consumer protection information in the UK. Provides information for businesses and consumers.
HM Customs and Excise
Provides information and advice for the public and for businesses.
Consumer Markets Authority (CMA)
The CMAis designed to help to protect consumers and explain their rights; and to ensure that businesses compete and operate fairly.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Working with businesses, employees and consumers to drive up UK productivity and competitiveness to deliver prosperity for all.
Food Standards Agency
An independent food safety watchdog set up to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food.
Citizens Advice Consumer Services
03854 04 05 06
Citizens Advice Consumer Services is a telephone and online consumer advice service, supported by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and provides clear, practical, impartial advice and will help the consumer to sort out any problems or disagreements they may be having with suppliers of goods or Services.
For further information please contact your local Consumer Advice Service as below:
Consumer Advice Centre
10 Church Street
Telephone: 01443 484469
Fax: 01443 484479
One 4 All
Telephone: 01685 878888
Fax: 01685 885235
One 4 All
Telephone: 01443 778959
Fax: 01443 778960