Unfair Commercial Practices Directive

The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) was adopted on 11 May 2005. Regulations implementing the Directive in the UK will come in to force by April 2008.


The Directive:

• harmonises unfair trading laws in all EU Member States;

• introduces a general prohibition on traders not to treat consumers unfairly. This prohibition is intended to act as safety-net consumer protection legislation.

In particular, the Directive will oblige businesses not to mislead consumers through acts or omissions; or subject them to aggressive commercial practices such as high pressure selling techniques. The Directive also provides additional protections for vulnerable consumers who are often the target of unscrupulous traders.

The Directive’s wide scope – it applies to all business sectors – and flexible provisions means that it will plug gaps in existing EU and UK consumer protection legislation; and set standards against which new practices will automatically be judged. Implementation of this Directive should help ensure the UK has a consumer regime amongst the level of the best in the world. 

In addition, the Directive overlaps with existing UK legislation, such as the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. This legislation will have to be amended to conform with the principles contained in the Directive, but could conceivably be repealed.  The Government’s stated objective will be to simplify the UK consumer framework wherever it is appropriate and sensible to do so.

Transposition to UK Law - Latest

In late 2005 the Government published a consultation document and partial Regulatory Impact assessment (RIA)considering how the Directive should be transposed into UK law. The deadline for responses was 8 March 2006. A summary of responses was published in June 2006.

On 11 December 2006 the Government's response to the consultation was published with an accompanying RIA, and a consultation paper on how to frame the criminal offences in the legislation implementing the UCPD.

On 29 May 2007 the DTI published its response to the latter consultation.  On the same day the DTI published a consultation on the draft regulations implementing the directive. Also on 29 May, the OFT published a consultation on the draft guidance for the directive. These new consultations close on 21 August 2007

Please have a look at our "Transposition" and "Green Paper" pages for further details and history.