As part of the audit process we will advise you of the legislation within the Trading Standards remit and Codes of Practice applicable to your business and where appropriate we will provide you with advice on what you need to do in order to comply.
It is a requirement of membership that you comply with applicable legislation and Codes of Practice and follow reasonable advice provided by us, both before and during the life of your membership.
There are a number of websites which allow you to identify the legislation applicable to your business; these are searchable by the goods and services you provide.
www.businesscompanion.info – Maintained by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute this allows you to search by your business type and provides advice on trading standards and consumer protection legislation, and how to comply with it.
www.food.gov.uk – Specifically relates to food businesses.
www.gov.uk – A Central Government website providing advice on legislation and information on a wide range of topics including employment, tax, and importing and exporting goods.
www.fca.org.uk – If you offer credit or work in certain financial sectors, the FCA provides advice on the licensing requirements and links to credit legislation. We expect members providing financial services, who are not registered, to proactively approach the FCA to determine whether they need to be licensed for their activities and provide evidence of the response before their BWC application can progress.
Codes of Practice
There are several Codes of Practice which are applicable across most business sectors, some which apply only if you carry out specific activities and some which are a requirement of professional or trade association membership.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), for example, publishes a Code of Practice which sets out requirements for all forms of advertising no matter what the product is. We will therefore require that all advertising complies with the ASA Code of Practice.
If you use premium rate telephone numbers there are specific requirements set out by the Phone-Paid Services Authority, again in a Code of Practice, and we will require that you comply.
We will ask you to describe what your business does and how it operates. It is important that we are fully aware of the range of goods and services you provide as this is your opportunity to use our expertise to help your business. We will then talk you through the relevant legislation and identify the legal requirements.
Much of the legislation Trading Standards enforces is explained in practical terms in guidance published either by the Government or by us. We will signpost you to relevant guidance, most of which is available online and is updated regularly.
We may also identify ‘best practice’, this can be over and above the minimum legal requirement or, if followed, is more likely to ensure that you continue to comply at all times. We will tell you if what we recommend is ‘best practice’ rather than the legal minimum.
Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that your business complies with applicable legislation and, as you know your business best, to ensure you work in a way that enables you to do this.
All contracts between businesses and consumers are governed by legislation which sets out the rights and obligations of both the business and the consumer. This legislation has been recently consolidated primarily into the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
All written standard term contracts must comply with the requirements of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. There are various publications available to help you get these right and we can give you some further direction, this guidance can help get you started Top tips when writing contract terms (publishing.service.gov.uk).
Some authorities will agree to review your terms and conditions, others may direct you to standard contracts agreed by professional or trade associations, but it remains your responsibility to ensure that written contracts are both fair and clear.
Advertising and Pre-contractual Information
All advertising must comply with relevant legislation and the ASA Code of Practice.
In some specific circumstances there is a statutory requirement to provide pre-contractual information and you will need to do so for most finance and insurance based products as well as contracts concluded ‘at a distance’ (e.g. online, over the phone or via mail order) and for contracts which are concluded in the consumers home.
You should also provide consumers with sufficient and accurate information to allow them to make an informed decision as to whether to purchase goods and services or not. You should not mislead or omit material information, to do so may be a criminal offence.
We require that all businesses comply with statutory requirements to have specific qualifications or register with specific organisations. For example, engineers working on gas appliances must be registered with Gas Safe.
We will also require that the conditions of registration are met at all times; this will include any complaints procedures, requirements to provide information to customers and use of standard forms and contracts.
If your business is registered with a regulator and as part of that registration you can demonstrate that you have met parts of our audit requirements, we will take this into account when processing your membership.
Statutory regulators include Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Ministry of Justice etc.
We will also require that you comply with any requirement to hold a licence issued by a local authority, Environment Agency or similar.
Examples include Waste Carriers Licence, Body Piercing Establishment etc.
Restricted names and titles
Certain professional titles and descriptions are limited to persons holding specified qualifications and/or membership of identified bodies. Where such titles are used we will require evidence of membership/registration with the relevant body.
Examples include Architect, Solicitor, Independent Financial Advisor, Chartered Accountant etc.
Some business sectors are subject to statutory registration with an Ombudsman, again we will require evidence that this is in place.
Examples include Estate Agents and some Lettings Agents, FCA registered businesses etc.