in the UK is mainly controlled through codes of practice. In the
case of advertisements in the non-broadcast media, the
Advertising Standards Authority
oversees and acts to ensure compliance with the British Code of
Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.
The Code is
the body of rules the advertising industry draws up and agrees
to abide by. In essence, it requires advertisements to be legal,
decent, honest and truthful and to be prepared with a sense of
responsibility to consumers and society at large.
of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 (as amended)
provides the legislative back-up to the self-regulatory system
in respect of advertisements which mislead or which do not
comply with the conditions under which comparisons are permitted
Regulations require the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to
investigate complaints. They empower OFT to seek, if necessary,
an injunction from the courts against publication of an
advertisement. More usually it would initially seek assurances
from an advertiser to modify or not repeat an offending
investigating, the OFT can require that other means of dealing
with a complaint, such as the ASA system mentioned above, have
been fully explored. Action by the OFT therefore usually results
only from a referral from the ASA
where the self-regulatory system has not had the required
TV and Radio Advertising
advertising is also subject to codes of practice. The Office of
is the statutory regulator. OFCOM has delegated its powers to
the ASA who deal with all complaints about such advertising.
Government policy in respect of this sector rests with the
Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA)
has a statutory duty to ensure that financial
promotions are clear, fair and not misleading.
The FSA encourages consumers to send in
misleading adverts via their on-line reporting
Please click the button
to read our Fact Sheet on misleading or offensive
The Trade Descriptions Act 1968
makes it an offence for a trader to apply, by any
means, false or misleading statements, or to
knowingly or recklessly make such statements
The Act carries criminal penalties
and is enforced by local authorities' Trading
of, and the provision of information on, food and
drink is the responsibility of the Foods Standards Agency.
on Trade Descriptions.
As well as
complying with the Trade Descriptions Act, green claims should provide consumers
with useful information about the environmental aspects of
products. A Green Claims Code drawn up jointly with the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) sets
out the standard of information that consumers can be expected
to be given about such matters. The code can be accessed on
the Green Claims Code more detailed practical guidance has been
issued for firms on how to make a good environmental claim. This
can be accessed by
The Property Misdescriptions Act
1991 makes it an offence for an estate agent or
property developer to make false or misleading
statements, in the course of their business,
about any of 33 property related matters listed
in the Property Misdescriptions (Specified
Matters) Order 1992.
The list includes, for example:
location or address;
aspect, view, outlook or environment;
accommodation, measurements and sizes;
physical or structural characteristics.
The Act is enforced by local
authorities' Trading Standards Officers.
on Property Misdescriptions
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is the lead Department for co-ordinating
product labelling policy and provides the
secretariat for an Interdepartmental Group on
Product Labelling. The Group has produced policy
guidelines on the issues to be taken into account
when Government support for new product labelling
proposals are being considered.
Product Labelling Scheme
The DTI commissioned
research to look at the impact of labelling
schemes. Available literature was reviewed and
conclusions drawn about which characteristics of
labels and labelling schemes were effective in
terms of meeting their objectives, and which were
not. The effective schemes were also assessed on
the ways in which they were effective and the
reasons for it. The results are contained in this
on labelling schemes research.
Annex (questionnaire used).
The Footwear (Indication of
Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995 implement EC Directive 94/11 on
the "approximation of the laws, regulations
and administrative provisions of the Member
States relating to labelling of the materials
used in the main components of footwear for sale
to the consumer".
involves the independent testing and marking of articles of
precious metal to indicate they conform to legal standards of
purity (fineness). These tests are carried out in the UK by
Assay Offices in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh.
Hallmarking Act 1973 makes it an offence for anyone in the
course of business to sell or describe a precious metal article
as gold, silver or platinum unless it is hallmarked, subject to
certain exemptions including articles below statutorily
prescribed weights. The Act is enforced by local Trading
Standards departments. It was amended in January 1999 to bring
it into line with European law.
Consumer Guide to the
1999 changes to Hallmarking Act
The UK is a
member of the Convention on the Control and Marking of Articles
of Precious Metals (Hallmarking Convention), which facilitates
the cross border trade of independently marked precious metal
articles. The UK recognises Convention hallmarks from 12 member
countries. Goods marked with Convention hallmarks can be
imported and sold in the UK without the need for additional UK
The UK also
recognises independent hallmarks struck in EU Member States to
equivalent UK standards in line with the European Court of
Hallmarking Council (BHC) is a Non Departmental Public Body set
up by the Hallmarking Act, which advises the Secretary of State
on hallmarking matters. It also ensures there are adequate
facilities for hallmarking in the UK and directs the Assay
Offices as to the standards, practices and procedures to be
adopted by them in the testing and marking of precious metal
items. The BHC can be contacted as follows:
No 1 Colmore Square
Tel: 0870 763 1414
Fax: 0870 763 1814
speaking, there is no requirement in the law of the United
Kingdom nor European Union for goods to bear marks indicating
their origin, nor is there anything to prevent voluntary
origin marking where traders wish to do so.
where such marks are applied to goods, the Trade Descriptions
Act 1968 effectively requires these marks to be accurate. The Act makes it a criminal offence for a person, in the
course of business, to apply false or misleading trade
descriptions to goods.
Customs guidance notes for traders on Origin Marking.
Fact Sheet on Origin Marking.
Marking Order 2004
Price Marking Order 2004 (SI
2004/102) which came into force on 21 July 2004, covers products, not services, and is
limited to sales between retailers and consumers. It requires
the selling price, and where appropriate the unit price, of
products to be clearly displayed.
Price Marking Order
pages) Regulatory Impact Assessment
Price Marking Order 2004.
Price Marking Order 2004 gives effect to Directive 98/6/EC of
the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998
on consumer protection in the indication of the prices of
products offered to consumers. The table below shows how the
provisions of the Directive have been transposed into national
law in the Order
Marking Order transposition table.
Marking (Food and Drink Services) Order 2003
Following a consultation on the Price Marking (Food and Drink on
Premises) Order 1979, and in light of a survey on pricing of
soft drinks in bars, restaurants and other
establishments, the Department has laid
before Parliament the Price Marking (Food and
Drink Services) Order 2003, S.I. 2003 No. 2252,
which comes into force on 2 March 2004. A copy of
the Order is available from The Stationery Office
or on line at: http://www.hmso.gov.uk/stat.htm.
Marking (Food and Drink Services) Order 2003.
response to the consultation.
Survey on pricing of soft drinks
In addition, there is price
transparency legislation covering the information
that must be provided:
where costs differ
according to method of payment;
reselling theatre and other tickets;
in bureaux de change.
Click this button to read our Fact
Sheet and FAQs on the bureaux de change
Review of Directive 98/6/EC on
As part of its information
gathering work for the review of the Directive,
the European Commission has written to Member
States seeking responses to a number of questions
on the application of the Directive. Following a
public consultation on the Commission's questions
during September 2002, the Government has now
Government's response and
analysis of responses to the consultation.
The Consumer Protection Act 1987
makes it a criminal offence to give consumers a
misleading price indication about goods,
services, accommodation (including the sale of
new homes) or facilities. It applies however you
give the price indication - whether in a TV or
press advertisement, in a catalogue or leaflet,
on notices, price tickets or shelf-edge marking
in stores, or if you give it orally, for example
on the telephone. The term "price indication"
includes price comparisons as well as indications
of a single price.
Under the legislation, DTI issues
a Code of Practice for Traders which provides guidance on
how to avoid giving misleading price indications.
consultation, the DTI has published a revised Code of
Practice for Traders, which replaces the existing 1988
version. The new guidelines have been
updated to cover new ways of trading including the Internet and
of Practice for Traders on Misleading Prices (revised 2005
of this publication will be available from the DTI
Publications Orderline on
21st October 2005.
Contact your local authority trading
standards department if you have a query about
enforcement of the law or how the law might apply
in a particular case. Contact DTI on policy
issues only, not enforcement or individual cases.