Trading Standards enforcement

We enforce over 80 parliamentary Acts and 2,000 supporting pieces of legislation.  Read our legislation enforced list for further details.

In doing so we recognise that while most people want to comply with legal requirements, some will operate outside the law (both intentionally and unintentionally).

We adopt a staged approach to enforcement, with advice and informal action fully explored to resolve the matter in the first instance.  However we will consider taking immediate formal action for serious breaches.  All enforcement work is undertaken in accordance with our enforcement policy.

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Application to review premises licence and designated premises supervisor

On Monday 8 January 2018, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Bury’s Newsagents, 159-161 Aylsham Road, Norwich.

Following the presentation from Trading Standards as applicants, Norwich City Council revoked the Premises Licence for the premises in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following our seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on two occasions when we inspected the store with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing.  Some of the tobacco products seized were counterfeit, none of the tobacco products seized carried the required combined health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016), and none of the tobacco products were packaged according to the new requirements under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.  The haul was confirmed to be worth almost £2,100 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.  The matter is currently subject to a criminal investigation.

These reviews form part of a range of planned illegal tobacco interventions by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Service to prevent crime and disorder by interrupting the sale of illegal goods.  Our inventions are also intended to ensure the health of consumers is not compromised, especially that of vulnerable young consumers who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes

Application to review premises licence and designated premises supervisor

On Friday 5 January 2018, Great Yarmouth Borough Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Yarmouth Food and Wine trading as King Street Food and Wine.  A Premises Licence is required for a business to legally sell alcohol.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council revoked the Premises Licence for the premises in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following our seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on two occasions when we inspected the store with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing and also supporting evidence from Great Yarmouth Borough Council Environmental Health Department.  Some of the tobacco products seized were counterfeit, none of the tobacco products seized carried the required combined health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016), and none of the tobacco products were packaged according to the new requirements under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.  The haul was confirmed to be worth almost £1,900 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.  The matter is currently subject to a criminal investigation.

Builder prosecuted

On 3 February 2017 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Anthony Bamford, previously of Cromer, pleaded not guilty to two offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 and was committed to the Crown Court for trial. On 8 November 2017 at Norwich Crown Court Mr Bamford pleaded guilty to an alternate offence of engaging in a commercial practice contravening the requirements of professional diligence contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The circumstances of the case are that Mr Bamford, a self-employed builder, contracted with a vulnerable man who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome to renovate his home ahead of sale (as he was to reside with his mother so as to act as her carer).  Despite being paid over £35,000 for the work, Mr Bamford did not complete the build and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations.  As a result the victim, who could not afford to have any remedial action undertaken, had to sell the property at a reduced price.

On 4 January 2018 Mr Bamford appeared at Norwich Crown Court and was sentenced to:

  • Four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and
  • 120 hours work in the community

Unfortunately no compensation for the victim or costs could be awarded by the court due to Mr Bamford having no funds.

Sentencing for seller of illegal tobacco

On 23 November 2017, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Sarhad Salari was sentenced to a further six offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Mr Salari had previously pleaded guilty at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court on 6 September 2017 as follows:

  • Three offences of aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the codefendants Lynn Express Limited and Joana Laurusonyte to have in their possession, custody or control in the course of a business counterfeit tobacco products which packaging contained a sign identifying or likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Three offences of aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the codefendants Lynn Express Limited and Joana Laurusonyte to supply tobacco products which did not contain a combined health warning in English as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

At the sentencing hearing Judge Holt ordered that Mr Salari serve a further six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and that each offence should align with sentencing for similar matters in August this year.  As Mr Salari has been cooperating well with his existing 300 hours community service Judge Holt felt there would be no merit in awarding any further community service for these additional offences.

Judge Holt also granted a forfeiture order for the illegal tobacco products seized from the defendants in favour of Trading Standards.  This was the second investigation which involved Mr Salari receiving significant guidance and assistance for the legal sale of tobacco products from both his Kubus store in Kings Lynn (as early as 2013), and then at Lynn Express Limited during 2016.  Mr Salari had also received a written warning in April 2015.  Following complaints received by Trading Standards that Lynn Express Limited was supplying and selling illicit tobacco products, a test purchase of illegal cigarettes was carried out in December 2016, and an inspection with Norfolk Constabulary, and a tobacco detection dog was made on 12 January 2017.  At that joint inspection on 12 January 2017 illegal tobacco products were found in a sophisticated concealment built into the floor of the premises. The tobacco products were seized and a formal investigation was opened into the business.  The total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £5,281.90 which was considered a commercial quantity.  In addition, Trading Standards were concerned that Mr Salari had extended his alleged offending from one premises to another store in King’s Lynn.

In addition to this prosecution, the licences, enabling the store to sell alcohol were revoked on 8 February 2017, following a Trading Standards application to review the licences to the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk who are the licensing authority.  Mr Salari appealed to the Magistrates’ Court against this decision but decided to surrender his licences on 27 April 2017, one day before the appeal hearing; having not complied with court directions.

Rogue builders

Four men, John Lee, 44, Charles Michael Hugh Doherty, 33, Michael Rooksby, 28, and Charles Doherty, 28, were sentenced at Northamptonshire Crown Court on Monday 30 October 2017 having pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading and fraud at an earlier hearing on 9 October 2017.

Lee was jailed for three years and four months, Rooksby for three years and 11 months, Charles Michael Hugh Doherty for four years and 10 months and Charles Doherty for two years and three months.

The four men, who traded under various business names, including Storm Shield, Roofing Solutions, Alpine General Builders and 1st Choice Property Maintenance, would cold-call at homes and claim that work needed to be done to the house; usually roofing repairs.  Often the work was unnecessary or the price would be over-inflated.  Twenty six victims were identified across Northamptonshire and surrounding counties, including five elderly residents in Norfolk (in King’s Lynn, Snettisham, Heacham and Hunstanton).  The investigation leading to the prosecution was led by Northamptonshire Trading Standards, supported by Norfolk Trading Standards and Norfolk Police.

His Honour Judge Roger Tregilgas-Davey said: “This involved cold-calling elderly, vulnerable people at their homes... deliberately to take advantage of them... Some of them had memory problems, mobility problems or Alzheimer’s. Their ages ranged from 71 to 93.  You charged extortionate prices for work that often just made the situation worse or was never needed.  The actual loss, if you were to tot it up, could be more than £138,000.”

Trading Standards prosecution - result

On the 30 October 2017 Automated Garage Doors and Gates Limited of Sweetbriar Industrial Estate, Norwich was sentenced to a fine of £12,000.  The company had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to three charges brought by this service under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.  One charge related to the supply of an unsafe automated gate and the two remaining charges related to a failure by the company to carry out appropriate checks and follow required procedures before the gate in question was supplied.  This service and the Health and Safety Executive had previously given the company advice on the requirements of the 2008 Regulations.  The conviction comes as a result of a joint investigation and prosecution undertaken by Norfolk Police, Norfolk County Council Trading Standards and the Health and Safety Executive, following a fatality caused by a gate supplied by Automated Garage Doors and Gates Limited.

On the 17 April 2013 a 56 year old Blofield resident was killed at her home when she became trapped under an electronically powered gate that had come off its rail and fallen on top of her.  It was apparent that there was no stop bracket or mechanism to prevent the gate overrunning the retaining post and coming off its rail when the gate was moved manually.

The employee who fitted the gate was found guilty, following trial, of one count of manslaughter by gross negligence brought by Norfolk Police.  He had also pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 brought by the Health and Safety Executive.  On the 30 October 2017, the employee was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment in relation to these offences.

Sentenced for possession of counterfeit tobacco products

On 13 October 2017, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Haval Shokir was sentenced to:

  • Sixteen months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years for the three offences of having counterfeit tobacco products in his possession, custody or control, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Six months’ imprisonment concurrent, suspended for two years for three offences of supplying tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and one offence of providing false or misleading information to an officer contrary to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
  • Four months’ imprisonment concurrent, suspended for two years for one offence of having a dangerous product in his possession for supply namely packs of cigarettes that failed the provisions of BS EN ISO 12863:2010 for Reduced Ignition Propensity and did not meet the General Product Safety Requirement as required by General Product Safety Regulations 2005
  • Carry out 250 hours unpaid work in the community.

The court awarded orders for the forfeiture and destruction of all the tobacco products seized.
In addition, Mr Shokir’s premises licence was revoked by Breckland District Council at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing for builder

On 12 October 2017, at King’s Lynn Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the judge commended Trading Standards for the clarity of their case summary.

On 16 June 2017 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower, previously of Attleborough but now of Bintree, pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to carry out work within a reasonable time or at all and failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The circumstances of the case are that Mr Blanchflower, a self-employed builder, contracted with a couple, both in their mid-seventies, to build an extension, to improve their living arrangements. Despite being paid over £45,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build in more than half a year and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £166,000 to have Mr Blanchflower’s extension demolished and rebuilt. Mr Blanchflower has only refunded just over £8,200.

Illegal tobacco enforcement – premises alcohol licence revocation

On Friday 22 September 2017, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Maxi LT Ltd, trading as Maxi LT. A premises licence is required by a business to legally sell alcohol.

Norwich City Council revoked the premises licence and also removed the current designated premises supervisor.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following test purchases and a seizure of illegal tobacco products located at the store during an inspection with Norfolk Constabulary. The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing.  None of the tobacco products seized carried the required health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016).  The combined haul of tobacco was confirmed to be worth in excess of £3,800 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.

Sentencing for seller of illegal tobacco

On 18 August 2017, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Sarhad Salari was sentenced to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. Mr  Salari pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to a total of thirteen charges as follows:

  • Five offences of having in his possession, custody or control in the course of a business counterfeit tobacco products which packaging contained a sign identifying or likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Eight offences of supplying tobacco products which did not contain a combined health warning in English as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

At the sentencing hearing the Court ordered that Mr Salari serve six months imprisonment, suspended for two years. This was the maximum sentence the judge could have imposed.  Mr Salari was also ordered to serve 300 hours community service within the next 12 months.  During his determination Judge Bate praised Trading Standards for their thorough investigation and excellent summary of the evidence at court, stating that Mr Salari clearly had no regard to the counterfeit nature of the products he supplied or the lack of duty paid to HMRC.

Following sentencing, Judge Bate set out a timetable for financial investigation of any criminal benefit arising from this case (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) - the outcome of which will also inform any costs due to the Council from the legal proceedings.

Mr Salari received significant guidance and assistance for the legal sale of tobacco products from his store, Kubus in Kings Lynn, as early as 2013.  However following further issues, Mr Salari was issued with a written warning in April 2015.  When more complaints were received Trading Standards, with Norfolk Constabulary, and using a tobacco detection dog, carried out a joint inspection on 27 September 2016, and found illegal tobacco concealed within the store for supply to customers.  This was seized and a formal investigation was opened into the business. Further joint inspections were made with Norfolk Constabulary on 23 November 2016 and 12 January 2017.  At the inspection on 23 November 2016 a further sizeable seizure of illegal tobacco products was made from a new sophisticated concealed location built into the back of a fridge and on 12 January 2017 further illegal tobacco products were seized from yet another concealment in a store room at the back of the shop.  The total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £5,430 which was considered a commercial quantity.  In addition, Trading Standards were concerned that, at this point, the period of offending had exceeded three years.

In addition to this prosecution, Mr Salari’s licences, enabling the store to sell alcohol, were revoked on 13 January 2017 following a Trading Standards application to the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, the licensing authority, to review the licences . Although Mr Salari appealed to the Magistrates’ Court against this decision he decided to surrender his licences on 27 April 2017, one day before the appeal hearing, having not complied with court directions.

Illegal tobacco enforcement – premises alcohol licence reviews

On Wednesday 16 August 2017, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for European Off Licence, trading as European Food Centre.  A Premises Licence is required for a business to legally sell alcohol.

Norwich City Council suspended the Premises Licence for two months and imposed additional conditions on the licence for the store in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on two occasions during inspection of the store with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing. None of the tobacco products seized carried the required health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016).  The combined haul of tobacco was confirmed to be worth in excess of £3,600 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.

On Thursday 17 August 2017, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Euro Food Norwich Ltd trading as Eurofoods.  A Premises Licence is required for a business to legally sell alcohol.

Norwich City Council revoked the Premises Licence for the premises in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

The application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on multiple occasions when making inspections with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk constabulary who presented their further concerns regarding licensable activities regarding sales of alcohol. None of the tobacco products seized carried the required health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016).  Cigarettes seized also failed the Reduced Ignition Propensity Test (which requires a cigarette to self-extinguish before it reaches the filter end). The value of the tobacco seized was confirmed to be in excess of £10,000 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices.

These reviews form part of a number of planned illegal tobacco interventions by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Service, working in partnership with enforcement colleagues and funded by Public Health, to interrupt the sale of illegal goods; protect legitimate traders from unfair competition; and ensure the health of consumers (especially vulnerable young consumers who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not further compromised.

Retailer selling illegal tobacco products

On 27 July 2017 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Azad Rasole of International Food, 5 Hall Road, Norwich, pleaded guilty to the following offences:-

  • Three offences of supplying tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
  • One offence of obstruction by failure to comply with a requirement properly imposed by a Trading Standards officer under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to enable the officers to seize and detain illegal tobacco products.

Mr Rasole became the owner of International Food in November 2016. Trading Standards started to receive complaints in November 2016 regarding the supply of illegal tobacco products ie cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco not packaged or labelled in accordance with the strict controls on the layout and warnings required which came into force in May 2017.

Trading Standards Officers undertook an inspection and early engagement with Mr Rasole on 6 December 2016 to provide guidance and assistance on the legal sale of tobacco products.  However a test purchase of illegal tobacco products was made on 13 December 2016 and a further joint inspection was made by Norfolk Trading Standards and Norfolk Constabulary on 31 January 2017.  At this visit a sizeable seizure of illegal tobacco products was made from a concealed area under the counter of the store.

On 31 January 2017 Mr Rasole was asked by Trading Standards Officers to open a van parked at the rear of the shop on the shop premises which officers could see contained items of concern. Mr Rasole advised he did not have keys to access the van.  The officers used their powers to force the van open and seized a large amount of illegal tobacco products from it.

The total seizure included 592 packets of 20 cigarettes and 40 x 50 gram pouches of hand rolled tobacco.  The equivalent legitimate value of these products would be £6,117.60 (based on an average packet of cigarettes being £10.00 and the average packet of hand rolled tobacco being £20.69).  This is a commercial quantity of tobacco products.

The officers also seized the CCTV for the store and on interrogation of it at a later date officers ascertained Mr Rasole did have keys to access the van and regularly access it to restock illegal tobacco products into the store.  Other CCTV images confirmed the supply of illegal tobacco products to customers from the counter area.

The defendant offered early guilty pleas to four offences and under a Basis of Plea agreed to pay prosecution costs of £3,134.94 and not to contest the cash seizure of £3,770 made on 31 January 2017.

After deliberation the magistrates determined they accepted the Basis of Plea but recognised the need to deliver sanctions which reflected the seriousness of the offences.  They advised it was their opinion the defendant knew his actions were wrong.  The magistrates then delivered fines totalling £7,620 in addition to the sums of money agreed in the Basis of Plea (a total of £14,524.94). The magistrates also agreed to the making of an order in favour of Trading Standards for forfeiture and destruction of the tobacco products seized on 31 January 2017.

This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised.

Builder pleads guilty to poor workmanship

On 16 June 2017 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower, previously of Attleborough but now of Bintree, pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to carry out work within a reasonable time or at all and failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

 

The circumstances of the case are that Mr Blanchflower, a self-employed builder, contracted with a couple, both in their mid-seventies, to build an extension, to improve their living arrangements.  Despite being paid over £45,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build in more than half a year and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations.  As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay over £140,000 to have Mr Blanchflower’s extension demolished and rebuilt.  Mr Blanchflower has only refunded just over £8,200.

 

After deliberation the Magistrates decided this matter should be sent to the Crown Court on a date to be confirmed, when the Court will also hear an application for a confiscation investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

King’s Lynn shopkeeper pleads guilty to illegal tobacco offences

On 14 June 2017 at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court, Mr Sarhad Salari of Kubus, King’s Lynn, pleaded guilty to five offences of possessing counterfeit tobacco products for supply, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994, and eight offences relating to tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. 

On 27 September 2016, at a joint inspection with Norfolk Constabulary, using a tobacco detection dog, Trading Standards found tobacco products concealed within the premises – these products were all seized by the Officers present. Further joint inspections were made with Norfolk Constabulary on 23 November 2016 and 12 January 2017.  At the inspection on 23 November 2017 a further seizure of illegal tobacco products was made from a new sophisticated concealed location built into the back of a fridge and on 12 January 2017 further illegal tobacco products were seized from yet another concealment in a store room at the back of the shop. The value of the total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £5,430 which is considered a commercial quantity. 

The Court heard that Mr Salari had previously received extensive guidance and also a written warning regarding on the sale of illegal tobacco products, but that Trading Standards  commenced their investigation when further intelligence received during 2016 suggested ongoing sales of illegal tobacco from the premises. 

After deliberation the magistrates decided the matter should be sent to the Crown Court on a date to be confirmed; when the Court will also hear an application for a confiscation investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and be asked to provide a forfeiture and destruction order for the seized products. 

This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this Service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised. 

Thetford defendant pleads guilty to illegal tobacco and product safety offences 

On 14 June 2017 at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court, Mr Haval Shokir of Europe Express, Thetford, pleaded guilty to: 

  • Three offences of having counterfeit tobacco products in his possession, custody or control, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Three offences relating to tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
  • One offence of providing false or misleading information to an officer contrary to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
  • One offence of possession of dangerous cigarettes, which failed ignition safety standards, contrary to the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 

On 29 September 2016, during a joint inspection with Norfolk Constabulary and Trading Standards, and using a tobacco detection dog, Trading Standards found indications of tobacco products concealed within the premises but none were initially located. Mr Shokir denied having access to store rooms at the rear of the premises, but, eventually, after further denials, Mr Shokir reluctantly opened a store room which had been used to conceal a large quantity of tobacco products, including 74,360 cigarettes and 20.6kg of hand rolling tobacco. These were all seized by the Officers present. The value of the total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £43,342 - a significant commercial quantity. 

On 13 December 2016 a further visit was made to the premises to carry out a test purchase - on this occasion illegal tobacco products were sold to the purchaser.   

As part of the investigation, a sample of the seized cigarettes were safety tested. These were found to fail important safety standards -  the report stated ‘the samples would not meet the General Product Safety Requirement in that a discarded cigarette would pose a risk of fire by not self-extinguishing as required by the standard’. Of those seized a total of 1,615 of packs were of the same type which had been tested and failed this safety standard. 

The Court heard that Mr Shokir had previously received extensive guidance and also a written warning regarding on the sale of illegal tobacco products, but that Trading Standards commenced their investigation when further intelligence received during 2016 suggested ongoing sales of illegal tobacco from the premises. 

After deliberation the Magistrates decided this matter should be sent to the Crown Court on a date to be confirmed; when the Court will also hear an application for a confiscation investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and be asked to provide a forfeiture and destruction order for the seized products. 

This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this Service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised. 

Former director of building firm ordered to pay £15,000 compensation to customers

David Umney of Fakenham Road, Drayton, previously a director of Norfolk Home Improvements Ltd, was handed a nine month jail sentence in October 2014 having pleaded guilty at Norwich Crown Court to a charge of contravening the requirements of professional diligence under Consumer Protection Regulations. The prosecution was brought by Norfolk Trading Standards after over 70 complaints were made by customers who had signed up for thousands of pounds’ worth of building work to be carried out by the company. Work was often of a very poor standard and in some cases no work was carried out at all. To compound this the firm failed to refund customer deposits and failed to respond to complaints.

Following the criminal prosecution Trading Standards launched a proceeds of crime investigation. This resulted in assets being frozen and on 4 April 2017 Mr Umney found himself back in the crown court for a confiscation hearing for those assets. The Court heard that of the available assets, £14,999 had been identified as directly attributable to his criminal conduct and could therefore be confiscated from Mr Umney. The court agreed with the prosecution that this money should be set aside for the victims, so that those customers identified as having suffered losses as part of the investigation (and who gave evidence in the original case) could be properly compensated. The Court directed that the cash be paid within two months or Mr Umney would face a further eight months in prison in default. The judge’s order sends out a strong message that traders will not get away with making false promises and leaving their customers out of pocket.

Trading Standards recommends that people should always use a Norfolk Trusted Trader or a trader who has been personally recommended to them by friends or family who have had similar work done. People can also contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for information about how to avoid becoming a victim of rogue builders. The helpline is available Monday to Friday between 9.00am to 5.00pm by calling 03454 04 05 06 (or 0208 1850 710).

Consumers can find a Norfolk Trusted Trader by visiting www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader

Company director found guilty of providing misleading information to consumers

On Thursday 23 March 2017, at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, a Company Director was convicted of two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The business, a motor dealer, had operated from premises in both Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

In June 2015, the company sold an Audi car to a consumer, advertised as having 104,000 miles on the clock. After the consumer bought the car, and before he collected it, the company put the car through an MoT test. The MoT certificate disclosed that the car had had a mileage reading of more than 159,000 at its MoT in 2014, but the company failed to bring this fact to the purchaser’s attention. Trading Standards alleged that this was a misleading omission under the above Regulations.

In August 2015, the company sold a 10-year old Mercedes car to a consumer, advertised as having a full main dealer service history. It turned out that the car had been serviced regularly at a main dealer only for the first few years of its life, and thereafter only infrequently and not at main dealers. Trading Standards alleged that this was a misleading action under consumer protection regulations.

Trading Standards also alleged that the company committed the offences by virtue of the Directors consent, connivance or neglect. 

The Court found the defendant guilty of both offences and sentenced him as follows:

  • £200 fine for each offence (£400 total)
  • £30 victim surcharge
  • £1,000 compensation for the consumer who bought the Audi
  • £3,750 compensation for the consumer who bought the Mercedes
  • £3,000 costs

The motor dealership first came to the attention of the Trading Standards Service as a result of the Citizens’ Advice Consumer Helpline receiving a number of consumer complaints about cars purchased from the business. Trading Standards Officers initially offered advice, but when this advice was ignored the Service had no option but to undertake a formal investigation, which led to this prosecution.