Trading Standards Solicitors
If your business or you as an individual face a Trading Standards investigation or prosecution, you will require expert legal representation at what can be a particularly distressing time. JMW specialises in this complex area of law and we understand how disruptive such an investigation can be, both personally and professionally.
Our Business Crime and Regulatory solicitors are experienced in helping clients facing Trading Standards prosecutions and ensuring businesses comply with all necessary regulations. We have a track record of success in defending individuals in cases of this nature.
We provide expert legal services and advice to deal with all matters relating to Trading Standards investigations, including:
- Preventing, where possible, investigations escalating to civil or criminal proceedings by providing practical advice and negotiating early outcomes with the regulator
- Attending interviews or meetings where your business is being challenged to represent your interests and ensure the interview is conducted in a fair manner
- Preparing written statements on your behalf
- Defending you throughout the investigative stage
- Seeking to avoid prosecution by negotiating with regulators on your behalf to find a flexible solution that is best for your business
- Where prosecutions have already commenced, we have extensive experience in defending Magistrates Court and Crown Court proceedings
As a full-service law firm, we can offer a range of relevant legal support, including helping to manage your business' reputation, providing expert legal advice on any related concerns, and working to mitigate any penalties that you might incur.
Areas We Cover
If a regulatory body believes your company is in breach of regulations, it can bring a prosecution against you through Trading Standards. Various regulatory bodies can bring such prosecutions, including - but not restricted to - the following:
- A local authority
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- The Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
- The Environment Agency
- The Foods Standards Agency
- The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
We have great experience in assisting businesses and individuals involved in many different types of action by various Trading Standards authorities, and advise in relation to an extensive range of related matters, including:
- Counterfeit goods
- Product safety and product recall
- Consumer protection legislation
- Sale and supply of restricted products
- Copyright and trade descriptions
We also advise on:
- Production orders
- Search and seizure
- Raids on businesses
- Livestock monitoring and movement
- Trademark breach
- Food safety and labelling
- Test certificates
- The Enterprise Act
- Consumer credit
- Compliance advice
- Financial investigation
- Reputation protection
- Settlement negotiation
- Product launches and contract reviews
- Advertising practices
- Due diligence
Why Choose JMW?
JMW is one of the North West's leading law firms in Trading Standards cases, with renowned solicitors who specialise in this area. We have extensive experience in representing both individuals and businesses at every stage of a Trading Standards matter.
We appreciate the critical impact that action by Trading Standards may have. We therefore seek to act as early as possible to protect your reputation, minimise profit loss, and seek to prevent disruption to your business and any unwanted media attention.
We also understand that avoiding action by Trading Standards is the best outcome for your business. We can therefore provide compliance advice to ensure your business remains up to date on evolving areas of Trading Standards regulations, allowing you to focus on maximising business profits and protecting your business from the outset.
FAQs About Trading Standards Investigations
What is the process of a trading standards investigation?
A Trading Standards investigation is conducted to ensure that a business is complying with consumer protection laws and regulations. The exact process of these investigations varies according to the specifics of the case, but several steps are typically involved every time:
- Reason for the investigation: There are several reasons that an investigation may begin. It may start with a complaint from a consumer or a tip-off from another source. Trading Standards officers may also proactively monitor markets and businesses for potential violations.
- Gathering evidence: If the situation warrants investigation, Trading Standards officers will start to gather evidence. This may involve interviewing witnesses, collecting documents, and conducting surveillance if necessary. Officers may also interview the business owner or employees to obtain their side of the story and request documentation related to any alleged violations.
- Inspection: In some cases, officers may conduct on-site inspections of the business premises to assess compliance with specific regulations. This can include checking product labelling, pricing, and safety standards. It is vital to seek expert legal advice at this stage if you have not already, as Trading Standards officers are bound by specific rules governing their ability to collect evidence. If they make mistakes or break the law in collecting evidence, this can exclude evidence from being used in court and may form the basis of a defence.
- Enforcement action: Based on analysis of the evidence and the strength of the case they have built, Trading Standards officers will decide whether to take formal enforcement action. This could involve issuing warnings, fines, or prosecution, depending on the severity of the violations. A solicitor can offer specialist advice throughout the court process and mount the strongest possible defence if you are subject to a Trading Standards Prosecution.
- Appeal: Businesses often have the right to appeal any enforcement actions or penalties imposed against them. Your solicitor can advise you on whether this is feasible and the likelihood of success in challenging a ruling that has been made against you.
Throughout the process, businesses need to work with a specialist Trading Standards solicitor. JMW's team can provide advice and representation during interviews with the Trading Standards team or any other investigators, and during any criminal prosecutions that result from the investigation. We can guide you on the information you are compelled to provide, help to protect your business' interests, and make sure you are treated fairly. Contact our Trading Standards lawyers today for advice on building a defence strategy during an investigation.
What are the penalties for trading standards offences?
The penalties for breaching UK Trading Standards law vary widely depending on the nature and severity of the offence. Trading Standards offences are typically categorised into different types of violations, and the penalties can range from warnings and fines to imprisonment in more serious cases. Some of the most common penalties include:
- Warnings and advice: For minor or first-time violations, Trading Standards officers may issue warnings, giving the business advice and a chance to rectify the issue. However, there is no guarantee that this will be the case, and you should prepare for the eventuality that investigators will pursue the strictest course of action available.
- Penalty notices: In some cases, Trading Standards investigators may issue businesses with civil penalties or penalty notices, which bypass the need for a court appearance or prosecution. These are usually issued in response to minor offences such as breaches of consumer protection laws or trading standards regulations. The amount of the fine varies depending on the offence, meaning that these are not always fixed penalty notices.
- Prosecution: More serious offences can result in a criminal prosecution. If a business is prosecuted and found guilty, it may face penalties that include fines, compensation orders to repay affected consumers, and other court-imposed sanctions.
- Seizure and forfeiture: Trading Standards officers have the authority to seize and, in some cases, forfeit goods that do not comply with safety, labelling, or other regulations. They may freeze assets before initiating confiscation proceedings, and it is vital to work with a solicitor if this process begins.
- Imprisonment: In rare and severe cases, individuals involved in Trading Standards offences, such as company directors or responsible employees, may face a custodial sentence if they are found guilty of serious violations. This is more likely to occur in cases of deliberate fraud, counterfeit goods, or endangering public safety. Our specialist trading standards solicitors can discuss your circumstances at the outset of an investigation and advise you on the outcomes you might expect.
- Prohibition orders: The court may issue prohibition orders that restrict individuals from engaging in specific business activities for a specified period.
- Director disqualification: Company directors found guilty of certain trading standards offences may be disqualified from serving as company directors for a specified period.
JMW's specialist solicitors have a wealth of expertise in this area and can assess your situation to provide a realistic sense of the penalties you may be facing. We always work to ensure any mitigating factors are considered during enforcement proceedings, as these may be important and could reduce your sentence in certain cases.
Talk to Us
Get in touch with the expert team at JMW today for advice in relation to any Trading Standards matter. Call us on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will call you back as soon as possible. We offer an initial free consultation for all the Trading Standards cases brought to us.