“Are your staff aware that their innocent mistakes could result in a large fine for you or even a prison sentence?”
“Are you aware of exactly what the Consumer Protection Regulations cover; how your employees could leave the directors open to prosecution, and how you can prevent this happening?”
The Consumer Protection Regulations create strict liability offences, i.e. once a false trade has been applied, or the goods are offered for sale then the offence has been committed.
We are quite sure that a company of your standing would not deliberately apply false trade descriptions, but consider the following:
- A previous owner put a 16v badge on his Golf GTi Sadly the salesman didn’t spot the mistake and sold it as a 16v.
- A franchised dealer sold a new car, but had to replace the odometer within 30,000 miles. The car was later purchased as a part exchange, and sold by the same dealer through the auction with warranted mileage.
- A salesman took it upon himself to state that a car had a Thatcham category 1 alarm and immobiliser fitted. The court held that the dealer had not done enough to prevent this happening.
- A dealer bought two virtually identical cars from auction. One had air conditioning, the other didn’t. Unfortunately the wrong car was advertised as having air conditioning.
The problem with the Consumer Protection Regulation from your point of view is that it creates strict liability offences. i.e. once a false trade description has been applied, or the goods are offered for sale then the offence has been committed.
It is not a defence to simply blame the salesman, or a previous owner.
The only line of defence is to show:
1. That the offence was due to a mistake or reliance on information supplied to you, or to the act or default of another person, an accident or some other cause beyond your control. …and…
2. That you took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence by the business, or any person under your control.
Lawdata can assist you in ensuring that you have the foundations of such a defence in place.
Why we do Compliance Checks
You need to carry out regular checks around your business to ensure that your staff are doing what they have been told, and that your systems are working.
The Lawdata Compliance check has been designed to assist you in this duty and includes:
- Mystery Shopper: a consultant will pose as a customer to ensure that the descriptions given by the sales person coincide with the instructions given by the company. The consultant will then identify the potential risk and any additional training necessary.
- Purchase of Stock Vehicles: an examination of the process for the purchase of vehicles.
- Customer Vehicle Order Form: an examination and critique of its suitability and use within the Branch.
- Sales Invoice: an examination and critique of its suitability and use within the Branch.
- Other documentation: a review of any other documentation relevant to the sales process to confirm legal compliance in order to maintain the validity of your statutory legal defence.
- Preparation and Display of Vehicles: an appraisal of the vehicles currently on display in relation to their conformity to the statutory requirements.
- Trade Sales: a comparison of current Branch practice with company policy.
- Product Liability: an assessment of the company’s current vulnerability.
- Training: an assessment of any training needs thought appropriate to meet the requirements of the statutory defence.
- Advertisements: an examination and critique of the current advertisements both on site and in the local media.
- Internet Displays: an examination and critique of any Internet display appertaining to the Branch as it relates to vehicle sales.
- Mileage Checks: an appraisal of the current capability and its effectiveness.
- Written Instructions: an appraisal of the company instructions and their implementation.
- Administration: an examination of the documentation appertaining to vehicle sales to ensure that it is correctly completed and consistent with company policy.
- Workshop Quality Control Systems: an appraisal of the current Quality Control System and its effectiveness.
- Workshop Pricing: a comparison of the current pricing policy with the statutory requirements.
- Documentation and Invoicing: a comparison of the current documentation with the statutory requirements.
Find out how to guard against these situations.
Call us today on 01767 601021 for a free consultation to find out how we can protect your business.