Trading Standards, Consumer Protection & Food Safety

Overview

Members provide specialist advice and robust representation across a broad range of consumer protection and trading standards matters including unfair commercial practices, unfair trading, fraud, intellectual property, product safety, age restricted sales, consumer credit, loan sharking and food safety cases.

The Group covers all levels of prosecution and defence work, from advice on compliance to representation in the appellate courts, from the relatively straightforward to matters of the utmost gravity and complexity. Counsel are often instructed at a pre-charge/litigation stage to ensure that actions and resources are efficiently directed and focussed on the critical issues. Members of the Group consistently achieve recognition and praise from the principal legal directories.

Trading Standards & Consumer Protection

Recent trading standards cases include the:

  • Prosecution on behalf of a local authority of a £1 million pound conspiracy to defraud concerning the manufacture of fake gold bangles
  • Prosecution of a group of companies and its directors for engaging in aggressive and misleading sales practices that pressured those targeted into purchasing various packages that purported to offer discounted access to holidays, cars and restaurants
  • Prosecution of three men operating a fraudulent travel company selling pilgrimages to Mecca that falsely claimed to be ATOL licenced
  • Prosecution of those involved in a computer repair scam which conned consumers nationwide and featured on BBC’s Watchdog
  • Defence of a market trader selling counterfeit clothing
  • Defence of a company director engaged in the supply of wall coatings and coverings to domestic properties accused of dishonest representation and poor workmanship
  • Defence of a company and its directors for allegedly placing thousands of dangerous products on to the market.

St Philips is the principal chambers for the national “Scam Busters” and Illegal Money Lending Teams based in Birmingham. The St Philips team includes:

  • A contributing editor for: Consumer and Trading Standards: Law and Practice [Editions 2016-2019] (LexisNexis).
  • Representation in some of the leading cases including:
    • R v X [2013] 2 Cr.App.R.15: the leading authority on CPUT Regulations 2008 and corporate recklessness;
    • R v Alston [2015] EWCA Crim 9 – on the operation of the confiscation regime in loan shark/illegal gambling cases;
    • R v Lear [2018] EWCA Crim 69 – the leading authority on the prosecution of unincorporated associations and partners/partnerships;
    • R v Drain [2018] EWHC 1255 – on the operation of the forfeiture regime under s97 Trade Marks Act 1994 and its compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Food Safety

We are frequently instructed to defend and prosecute individuals and organisations charged under the Food Safety Act 1990. Matters range from relatively minor breaches resolved at first appearance in the Magistrates’ Court to jury trials involving due diligence defences and proceedings could involve a sole trader or a national restaurant operator or supermarket chain.  Those with expertise in this field fully understand both the concern of local authorities and their respective environmental health client departments to ensure the safety of the public and the financial and reputational damage that proceedings can cause to those operating businesses in this sector.  Counsel can be made available at short notice to either make or resist emergency closure orders.

The Group also receives instructions from the Food Standards Agency and has appeared on their behalf in the Magistrates’ Court, Crown Court and the First Tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber.