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 Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

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Prosecution of Builder

On 4 January 2023 at Norwich Crown Court, Mark Peter Bye pleaded guilty to contravening professional diligence under consumer protection regulations.

This follows a five-week trial in November/December 2022, where the jury had been unable to reach a verdict on this offence or a related offence of fraudulent trading.

Bye, of Clacton and formerly of Britannia Road, Norwich, agreed to undertake building work for customers in the Norwich area in 2018 and 2019. The case was brought by Trading Standards, who had received several complaints about the building works. Despite taking most of the contract price, or in some cases more than the contract price, the complaints against Mr Bye included work left unfinished, work not done to a satisfactory standard, and in some cases, payments having been taken for materials, which were then not supplied. Mr Bye’s guilty plea relates to his dealings with five customers in four households.

Mr Bye will be sentenced on 6 March 2023 at King’s Lynn Crown Court. He has been told to expect a suspended prison sentence and a requirement to do unpaid work as a community punishment.

The separate count of fraudulent trading will lie on the file, so Mr Bye was neither convicted nor acquitted of this offence.

Sentencing of Second-Hand Car Dealer

On 9 December 2022, at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court, Ashley Hamblyn of Hamblyn Cars Ltd pleaded guilty to one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, for knowingly or recklessly engaging in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence towards consumers by:

  • offering and exposing for sale or supply vehicles which were not of a satisfactory quality
  • failing to engage with complaints
  • failing to ensure vehicles were sold with the correct documentation
  • failing to uphold consumer statutory rights for remedies or refunds for unsatisfactory vehicles

Mr Hamblyn was fined £700 with a victim surcharge of £70. Costs of £5000 were awarded to Trading Standards.

The Court also granted a Criminal Behaviour Order against Mr Hamblyn for a period of five years, to ensure any future trading in second hand vehicles complied with good commercial practices.

Until early 2022 Mr Hamblyn had traded in Great Yarmouth selling second-hand vehicles at his business Hamblyn Cars Ltd. Following the receipt of numerous complaints, Norfolk Trading Standards provided significant advice and guidance to Mr Hamblyn, including the need to ensure vehicles sold from the business are roadworthy and to engage positively with consumers who experienced issues with their purchases.

On 11 November 2021 during an operation to inspect vehicles offered for sale by second-hand motor traders two vehicles were inspected at Hamblyn Cars Ltd.

One vehicle was found in an unroadworthy condition with 12 major faults including excessive water content in the brake fluid, perforated suspension arms and mounting, multiple perforations to the sills, fluid leaking from the power steering and an excessive engine oil lead. Reversing and fog lights were also not working and brake pipes were corroded.

The second vehicle was also found in an unroadworthy condition with 17 highlighted faults, 8 of which were major including an oil leak to the engine and fluid leaking from the steering rack. The front brake system was completely seized and all rear stopping lights were inoperative. In addition to the faults the vehicle was recorded on a check as a category D write off. This was not declared in the online advertisement for the vehicle.

Mr Hamblyn was previously prosecuted by Trading Standards in 2017 for offences when trading as Norwich Fairtrade Motor Company Ltd. This included engaging in commercial practices which were misleading in the sale of second hand vehicles and caused alarm and distress to consumers.

Farmer prosecuted under Animal Welfare Act 2006

On 20 September 2022 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr David Britton pleaded guilty to a total of 11 allegations comprising:

  • 8 allegations contrary to offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 as follows:
  • 2 offences contrary to s4 Animal Welfare Act 2006, for causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, being a cow, by failing to provide adequate dry and clean bedding and keeping the animal in a poor and dirty environment, and by failing to provide adequate nutrition to the cow leading to it becoming undernourished,
  • 6 offences contrary to s9 Animal Welfare Act 2006, for failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of animals he was responsible for at the farm were met to the extent required by good practice, in that he failed to ensure the cattle were housed in pens and yards without sharp edges and protruding nails, he failed to ensure the animals had access to fresh water (the water trough was full of green algae), and he failed to ensure the animals had access to adequate dry lying and the conditions they were housed in were squalid with wet and contaminated straw. He also failed to protect a lame animal from pain by delaying appropriate treatment for the animal, and
  • 3 offences contrary to offences under the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, by failing to ensure calves held in pens had access to water during hot weather conditions and failing to ensure a sick and injured cow was isolated in suitable accommodation with dry comfortable bedding.

Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Animal Health Officers had visited and inspected the farm on many occasions over a lengthy time period (two years) but, being unable to bring the farm practices to compliance, had no option but to pursue a prosecution against this farmer.

Sentencing David Britton to 8 weeks custody suspended for 18 months, Judge David Wilson stated since August 2019 David Britton had received many visits pre-dating the charges against him, offering advice and guidance from Trading Standards and APHA. Mr Britton had not heeded the improvement notices issued or improved the conditions at the farm. The inadequate conditions for dry laying straw at the farm for the animals and the failure to protect them from the poor conditions of the housing left the inspectors with ongoing concerns. Mr Britton had failed to provide clean water for the animals including young calves in periods of hot weather. The animals had suffered a prolonged period of neglect at his hands although the Judge accepted this had occurred during a period of Mr Britton’s ill health.

Judge David Wilson acknowledged concern remained for the practices at the farm and granted a s34 Disqualification Order which prevents Mr Britton owning, keeping, participating in the keeping, dealing, transporting or arranging transport for cattle and bovines for a period of 10 years (with no ability to apply for variation or discharge within 7 years). The Order will take effect on 1 November 2022 to allow the farm livestock to be transferred to other ownership. Trading Standards will require proof of the transfer of ownership of the animals by this date.

Judge Wilson acknowledged the difficult financial position the farm was in but determined Trading Standards had undertaken a thorough investigation and demonstrated Mr Britton’s case had crossed the custody threshold. Costs of £1,000 were granted to Trading Standards with a victim surcharge of £128.

Sentencing of Fraudulent Builders

On Monday 22 August 2022 at Norwich Crown Court, Recorder Hardy handed down the following sentences:

Reece Lloyd was sentenced to 9 months custody, suspended for 18 months; and 200 hours Community Work.

Kyle Muir was sentenced to 33 months immediate custody.

Mr Lloyd and Mr Muir were co-defendants to the prosecution. Lloyd had set up a home improvements company called Diamond Standard Renovations, which he operated with the 2nd co-defendant, Kyle Muir. Having received over £67,000 for home improvement works, Diamond Standard Renovations failed to complete a two-storey extension, and the work which was undertaken was found to be structurally unsound and valued at only £5000 by a Chartered Surveyor.

Having initially operated Diamond Standard Renovations with Lloyd, Muir later set up on his own as Better Home Improvements and The Cladding and Roofing Company Ltd., creating online profiles and claiming his business was a company. Muir also sent correspondence purporting to be other persons in the names of legitimate small local businesses which subjected those legitimate businesses to harm of reputation.

Muir received over £48,000 from victims but failed to complete any work he contracted to undertaken. He left consumers with building work that was unsound and required rebuilding. Muir also left the premises of victims in dangerous states. All victims were forced to pay other professionals to redo the work Muir had failed to complete.

As part of his summing up Recorder Hardy said:

“All over the UK home-owners seek traders to develop and improve their homes. The vast majority of traders are decent, hard-working people with families to support, the trust in which you have in effect undermined by your engagement in a campaign of cowboy, conmen behaviour. The ongoing impact to the victims is clearly expressed by the comments in their Victim Personal Statements heard today and indicates to me, particularly by Muir for a lawless career likely to continue without the imposition of a Criminal Behaviour order.”

A Trading Standards application for a post-conviction Criminal Behaviour Order for Kyle Muir was also granted by Recorder Hardy as being justified and proportionate to the matter for a period of 10 years.

Claims for compensation and costs will be addressed through further proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The case has featured in the EDP, where photos of the work undertaken can also be seen.

Prosecution of Builder

On 6 July 2022 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr John Hollidge of Burgh St Peter, Norfolk pleaded guilty to the offence of contravening the requirements of professional diligence (contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008), by taking payment for building works and then failing to complete the works within a reasonable time, to a satisfactory standard, or in some cases at all.

Mr Hollidge, a sole trader, agreed to carry out some improvements to a 2-bedroom terraced house in Norwich at the beginning of 2018, with the works estimated to require 3 months and to cost £20,000. The scope of the works expanded, by agreement with the customer, but after two and half years (during which the house was uninhabitable) there was still no sign of the works being near their conclusion. By this time, the customer had paid over £70,000 to Mr Hollidge.

Eventually, the customer engaged another builder to complete the works and restore the house to a condition where she could move in, and this cost nearly £74,000 on top of the money already paid to Mr Hollidge.

When sentencing the Magistrates said that Mr Hollidge had caused an awful lot of distress to the victims and issued a compensation order in their favour in the sum of £49,439, payable in monthly instalments. No separate penalty was imposed.

The court has also made a Criminal Behaviour Order against Mr Hollidge, prohibiting him from taking any up-front payments or payments on account in connection with building or home improvement works. The order will remain in place for 5 years; any breach of the order would be a further criminal offence.

Fraudulent Landscaper/Fencer - Compensation Secured for Victims

Mr Jamie Johnson, of Clenchwarton, pleaded guilty on 28 July 2021 to the offence of fraudulent trading; contrary to Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006. The circumstances of the case are that Mr Johnson, a self-employed landscaper and fencer, contracted with a total of seventeen consumers (sixteen residing in Norfolk) between August 2018 and September 2020.

The contracts were mainly to carry out fencing, paving and landscaping. The work, if any was carried out, was to a poor standard; occasionally Mr Johnson would obtain deposits for the work and never return to the site to carry out the work or provide materials with the funds he had been paid.

He regularly failed to complete works that had been commenced, leaving the consumers to chase their funds, with him promising to make the appropriate refunds. Mr Johnson was paid a total of £26,505 from consumers and made no refunds.

On 1 November 2021 Mr Johnson was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court to 14 months imprisonment, immediate custody.

Today (7 March 2022) at Norwich Crown Court, Trading Standards made a confiscation order application under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, which was granted by the court in the sum of £29,355.00.

These funds will be paid into the enforcement court, which will then distribute the appropriate compensation to the seventeen victims who provided evidence in the original case.

The defendant was given 6 months to pay the money, as the realisation of the funds is through the sale of a property. If he fails to do so an 8-month imprisonment default sentence will be imposed, at the end of which the debt will still be due.

Sentencing of Motor Parts Trader

On 27 October 2021 at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Peter Bradley of Norwich pleaded guilty to offences of contravening the requirements of professional diligence (contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008) and fraudulent trading (contrary to the Fraud Act 2006), by taking payment for and then failing to supply used motor vehicle engines.

On 25 February 2022, Mr Bradley was sentenced to:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment for fraudulent trading
  • His previous suspended sentence of 20 weeks’ imprisonment was activated, to be served consecutively (so a total of 6 months + 20 weeks)
  • No separate penalty for the offence under the consumer protection regulations
  • A criminal behaviour order restricting his trading activities, so as to prohibit the direct receipt of up-front payments from consumers and to require certain conduct relating to complaint handling, effective immediately and for indefinite duration

Mr Bradley, a sole trader operating as Find an Engine UK through a website, offered to supply used engines to a number of consumers. In each case, an up-front deposit or prepayment was requested, and in some cases further payments were also requested, but no engine was supplied. Over a period of 12 months, over £3000 was taken from 7 consumers who were witnesses in the case. One other customer was asked for an advance payment but having made checks and discovered reports of Mr Bradley’s previous conduct, decided not to proceed.

Mr Bradley had accepted a caution from Trading Standards in relation to similar conduct in September 2016. He continued with this conduct and following a further investigation Trading Standards prosecuted Mr Bradley in 2017. He was sentenced in April 2018 to 20 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, and he was made subject to a criminal behaviour order restricting his activities.

The current prosecution arose from yet another investigation when Mr Bradley was found to have continued this conduct even after the earlier prosecution.

In summing up, His Honour Judge Hardy QC stated, “most people would have been worried and yet without any apparent regard at all you carried on doing exactly that which brought you before the Court”. “Where a court imposes a suspended sentence, the court’s intention is to bring the offender to his senses and that he will keep out of trouble. But you didn’t. You engaged in exactly the same conduct.”

“I take no pleasure in doing this, but the fault is entirely yours.”