The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (known as the CPRs) control unfair practices used by traders when dealing with customers, and create criminal offences when these rules are breached.
The Regulations cover a very wide range of different business practices including 31 specific practices that are always considered to be unfair. They prohibit 'misleading actions' and 'misleading omissions' that cause, or are likely to cause, the average consumer to take a 'transactional decision' he would not have taken otherwise. They apply to commercial practices relating to products (which includes goods, services and digital content) before, during and after a contract is made.
They provide consumers with rights to receive redress in respect of misleading and aggressive commercial practices and also set out the remedies available to them.

What is prohibited?
Effectively the CPRs prohibit trading practices that are unfair to consumers. There are four different types of practices to consider:
1. Practices prohibited in all circumstances
2. Misleading actions and omissions
3. Aggressive practices
4. General duty not to trade unfairly
For items 2, 3 and 4 it is necessary to show that the action of the trader has an effect (or is likely to have an effect) on the actions of the consumer. The test looks at the effect (or likely effect) on the average consumer, which mean there is no need for evidence about how any particular individual was affected.
The Regulations recognise that different types of customers may react to a practice in different ways, and therefore identify three different types of customer:
1. Average customer (reasonably well informed, reasonably observant and circumspect)
2. Targeted customer (where the practice is directed to a particular group of consumers)
3. Vulnerable customer (where a group of consumers is particularly vulnerable to the practice or product because of their mental or physical disability or age)

What remedies are available to a consumer?
There are three main remedies available to a consumer: the right to unwind, the right to a discount, and the right to damages.
Right to 'Unwind'
The right to ‘unwind’ allows the customer to undo the contract and be put back into the position he was in before it was made. However, there are some restrictions to this:
1. The customer must reject the goods within 90 days. In general this 90 day period begins either when the goods are delivered or when the service actually begins.
2. The right to unwind only applies where it is still possible to undo the transaction. If the goods have been fully consumed or the service fully complete this would not be possible. However, if it is still possible to return some element of the goods or reject an element of the service this would be enough. Consumers are entitled to a full refund even though they may have received some benefit from it.
3. The consumer's right to a full refund is reduced in the case of continuous-supply products (such as utility contracts).
Right to a Discount
This right applies where the right to unwind has been lost. This may be because of a delay in complaining or because the goods have been fully consumed. For goods and services costing less than £5,000 there is a fixed-percentage discount ranging from 25% for minor issues to 100% for very serious cases. Above £5,000, if the misleading or aggressive practice led the consumer to pay more than the market price for the product, the price is reduced to the market price. Otherwise, the fixed-percentage discounts will still apply.
Right to Damages
Customers can claim damages if they have suffered losses that exceed the price paid for goods and services. These damages can cover distress as well as economic losses suffered as a result of the prohibited practice.

A breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.
Enforcers can also apply for a court order requiring you to comply. If the order is not complied with the maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.
The CPRs also contain criminal offences that can be prosecuted by the Competition and Markets Authority, trading standards services and the Lord Advocate in Scotland.
Everyone that runs a business needs to be fully aware of these Regulations as they cover a vast area of consumer law.
This is only a very brief guide to the Regulations. If you’d like to see them in full please click here.

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