Consumer Protection Act – Product Safety and Price Indications
When you make a purchase you want to know that what you have bought is safe. Under Part 2 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 Product Safety and Price Indications , certain safety requirements were created. The legislation was further developed through the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
This legislation is divided into several parts:
Before you can use the legislation, Product Safety and Price Indications, it is required that you can clearly distinguish what a product is. Under these regulations, a product is any item that a consumer would use or use for something else. A product has a very wide definition and at the very least it will relate to all kinds of consumer goods such as food and homeware items. However it does not cover equipment that is used by a business to provide a service.
A producer is defined under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 as:
- A product manufacturer – Any individual who associates with a product, trademark or other distinctive mark or an individual who reconditions a product
- If the manufacturer isn’t established in the EU, they will be considered as a producer if they have a representative who is based in the EU or if the product is exported to a country who is a member of the EU.
- An individual who didn’t create the product but who are involved in the supply chain – There are many people involved in the supply chain and these people are recognised as a producer in line with the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
These regulations place specific obligations on producers and distributors in terms of the safety of their products.
This information relates to:
- Producers who must supply – general safety requirements, sufficient information, monitoring and enforcement compliance
- Distributors – Safety requirements and enforcement compliance
If a breach occurs by a producer or distributor they could face criminal sanctions
Where products are supplied or distributed, they should not be marketed for sale unless they meet certain safety standards. This is a requirement of Regulation 5, Product Safety and Price Indications. A producer who knowingly authorises a product knowing that is unsafe can be prosecuted, even if they didn’t actually put the product on the market or supply it.
When products are made available for sale, a consumer must have the relevant information they need to make an informed choice. This will include any details on the risks associated with the product during normal use and how they can take precautions if this is needed to reduce the risk.
Producers must remain updated of ongoing risks that relate to their products and update information as soon as they become aware of the risk. Customers should be encouraged to report any faults in a product so that information can be updated and the product improved.
When a business agrees to distribute a product, they must be fully aware of the safety requirements in relation to the product(s). Furthermore, they should never authorise a product for sale if it breaches the regulations and regularly monitor products to ensure that they fully comply with the regulations.
A producer or distributor has a legal obligation to ensure that the products they supply or market are safe. If at any time they become aware that the products fall below the required standards, they must notify an enforcement authority.
If a breach occurs, the only plausible defence would be that the producer or distributor took all reasonable steps and they exercised the necessary due diligence to avoid at all costs the breach occurring. Provided that distributors and producers have the necessary systems and processes in place and they adhere to the regulations, they will have a strong defence.
Under Section 20 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987, Product Safety and Price Indications, a business cannot provide misleading pricing information about a product, service, accommodation or facility. Section 21 develops this further and puts in place quite specific guidelines as to what is classed as being misleading.
Each of the following would be classed as misleading:
- Stating that a product is cheaper than it actually is
- The purchase will include additional costs that are not highlighted in the price
- Information that may be provided during the process of price comparison
- Information about how the price was calculated
- Details on price changes in the future.
If a consumer makes a purchase but the actual purchase price is higher, this can result in criminal proceedings. In addition, businesses can also be held accountable if they provide a price when a customer makes a decision to buy but this price is no longer the same, this is considered to be misleading practice and a criminal offence.
About the Author
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers team and posted by Lloyd Barrett, Admin & Customer Services Manager for online advice service Expert Answers. Expert Answers provides legal advice to users in the UK who post a question on their secure platform.