Trading Standards Investigations
Trading standards investigations can have a dramatic effect on businesses. Beyond fines, imprisonment and court appearances, officers may "raid" offices and directors' homes, seizing documents and ICT equipment.
Investigations can also damage consumer confidence and commercial reputations.
Trading Standards Officers have many powers (see box). They can visit businesses without prior notice to ensure they are operating legally.
If you have Trading Standards calling to inspect or investigate, early expert legal advice can make all the difference. It is important to make sure that you are sufficiently resilient against the effects of a "raid" or other enforcement action.
JMKT – Trading Standards Consultants can advise on the strength of any case and its evidence. We can help represent your “due diligence” defence and give advice on pleas. We can challenge the case against you and prepare a robust defence.
Facing a Trading Standards Investigation, Interview or Prosecution?
JMKT can; - Explain the Trading Standards law involved.
JMKT can; - Reduce the chances of a Trading Standards investigation becoming a prosecution.
JMKT can; - Help you prepare a “due diligence” defence and evidence.
JMKT can; - Prepare you for a PACE interview under caution*.
JMKT can; - Speak to investigating officers to ensure that they play fair.
JMKT can; - Explain about simple cautions, undertakings, fines and costs.
JMKT can; - Reduce the worry and let you get on with running your business.
*JMKT strongly advises against attending an interview without proper preparation; its very easy to led into saying the wrong thing.
Trading Standards Powers
Trading Standards Officers have many different powers; as listed below. These powers are, however, limited to certain situations and we know of many instances when officers have exceeded these powers to the detriment of businesses.
Trading Standards Officers can: -
Make undercover test purchases from your business posing as customers
Commence an investigation into your business based on a complaint from a customer
Attend at your business premises without notice
Seize your business records including computers, mobile phones and products
Seize goods as evidence or for forfeiture.
Interview people associated with the business
If accompanied by the police, effect an arrest of any personnel associated with the business who they have reasonable grounds to suspect of committing offences
Issue formal warnings
Review any licences granted to the business
Issue criminal cautions
Interview personnel under caution at the police station or Trading Standards offices
Commence criminal prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court
- Instigate Proceeds of Crime Act
(POCA) proceedings to remove, any criminal property/profit that may have been acquired as a result of the offences.
Trading Standards Interviews Under Caution / PACE
If Trading Standards Officers believe you have committed an offence they will ask you to attend a formal interview under caution / PACE. You should always seek expert advice before attending such an interview and remember that if you are given the caution,
“you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court, anything you do say may be used in evidence against you”,
then be aware that the Trading Standards Officers are thinking about taking a criminal prosecution.
JMKT – Trading Standards Consultants advise that you shouldn’t answer any questions until you have received expert trading standards advice; especially outside of a proper interview situation.