Guidance on the
CMA’s approach to use
of its consumer powers
© Crown copyright 2014
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1 Introduction .......................................................................................................... 2
2 The Legal Framework .......................................................................................... 6
3 Policy Objectives .................................................................................................. 8
4 Working In Partnership ...................................................................................... 12
5 The CMA’s Approach To Compliance And Enforcement Of Consumer
Protection Law ................................................................................................... 25
6 The Use Of Civil Consumer Enforcement Powers By The CMA ........................ 33
7 The Use Of Criminal Consumer Enforcement Powers By The CMA .................. 47
Annexes ................................................................................................................... 54
A. Consumer legislation under which the CMA has enforcement powers .............. 55
B. Status of OFT consumer guidance documents and publications ....................... 58
This guidance covers the Competition and Markets Authority’s (the CMA)
approach to the use of its consumer powers. It does not provide guidance on
the substance of the infringements created under relevant consumer
protection law that the CMA enforces. Annexe B indicates which existing
consumer-related guidance documents have been adopted by the CMA
Board. In the event of a conflict arising between the content of such existing
guidance and this guidance, the content of this guidance will prevail.
On 1 April 2014, the functions of the Competition Commission (CC) and many
of the functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are transferred to the CMA
and those bodies are abolished. The OFT’s consumer role had already
changed in the period prior to abolition as part of the rationalisation and
simplification of the consumer landscape. The OFT’s functions of running the
Consumer Code Approval Scheme, the Consumer Direct advice service, and
the national leadership role on consumer education were transferred in April
2013 to the Citizens Advice Service and Citizens Advice Scotland (Citizens
Advice services) and the Trading Standards Institute (TSI). Local authority
Trading Standards Services (TSS) took on a new role as the primary national
enforcer of consumer protection law, with the OFT’s national enforcement role
focusing more on systemic problems in markets.
The CMA inherits most of the functions and powers which the OFT had
retained as at 1 April 2013 as part of the initial package of reforms and
together these constitute a different but significant role in the consumer
landscape from that previously held by the OFT. The CMA will use its full
range of consumer powers to tackle, in particular, market wide consumer
problems or issues which affect consumers’ ability to make choices. While the
CMA is a consumer minded organisation, it is not involved in providing direct
frontline support to consumers. The OFT stopped running the Consumer
Direct advice line on 31 March 2012. Since then, consumers have been
advised to contact the Citizens Advice consumer service,1 which provides
free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues.
The CMA has a range of tools which may be used to address problems in
markets. For example:
1 See www.adviceguide.org.uk or call 08454 04 05 06.
the CMA has powers to enforce a range of consumer protection law such
as the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 (UTCCRs),
and under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
(CPRs) can take civil proceedings or criminal prosecutions against
the Enterprise Act 2002 (EA02) also enables the CMA to conduct market
studies and investigations to assess particular markets in which there are
suspected competition problems, and to require market participants to
take remedial action which the CMA may specify
under the EA02, the CMA can investigate mergers which could potentially
give rise to a substantial lessening of competition, and specify measures
which the merging parties must take to protect competition between them
while the investigation takes place
the CMA may also bring criminal proceedings against individuals that
commit the cartel offence under section 188 of the EA02
finally, under the Competition Act 1998 (CA98) the CMA may investigate
individual undertakings or groups of undertakings to determine whether
they may be in breach of the UK or EU prohibitions against anti-
competitive agreements and abuse of a dominant position.
The ERRA13 implemented a number of enhancements to these statutory
powers to deal with competition and markets issues (compared to the powers
available to the CC and OFT), in order to improve the robustness of decision-
making, increase the speed and predictability of the CMA’s activities and
strengthen the UK’s competition regime as a whole.
The CMA will act strategically, being selective about which cases it chooses to
take on. The CMA will apply its prioritisation principles2 and aim to maximise
the impact of its work by taking an enforcement lead that others can follow
and/or seeking delivery partners for targeting messages for business or
consumers as appropriate.
Working in partnership is a key element of the CMA’s consumer strategy. The
CMA will work to build seamless partnerships with co-enforcers such as the
2 At the time of publication, the CMA is analysing feedback received to the consultation on its
TSS and the sectoral regulators3 by developing Memoranda of Understanding
and participating fully in the new co-ordinating groups such as Consumer
Protection Partnership (CPP)4 to deliver high impact outcomes. In particular,
the CMA will work with others to share best practice, build enforcement
capability, and help identify strategic priorities for enforcement.
The CMA understands and respects the aims of the Government’s consumer
landscape reforms. Recognising the Government's desire to give TSS and
CPP a central role in the new landscape, and to ensure the space is created
for them to take the initiative, the CMA will adopt a supportive and facilitative
partnership role in areas of potential overlap, rather than one of leadership as
the OFT would have done, prior to the legislative changes.
This guidance reflects the views of the CMA as at 1 April 2014 and may be
revised from time to time to reflect changes in best practice, legislation and
the results of experience, legal judgments and research. This guidance may in
due course be supplemented, revised or replaced. The CMA’s webpages will
always display the latest version of the guidance.
1.10 Although it covers most of the points likely to be of immediate concern to
businesses and their advisers, this guidance makes no claim to be
comprehensive. It cannot, therefore, be seen as a substitute for the relevant
Acts, Regulations or Orders. Anyone in any doubt about whether they may be
affected by the legislation should consider seeking legal advice.
1.11 The CMA will apply this guidance flexibly. This means that the CMA will have
regard to the guidance when dealing with potential breaches of consumer
protection law but that, when the facts of an individual case reasonably justify
it, the CMA may adopt a different approach.
1.12 This guidance takes effect from 1 April 2014. The new approach will apply to
all ongoing and future cases from that date.5
1.13 The CMA will play a role in monitoring the operation of the new arrangements
in the consumer landscape and discuss with partners whether any
improvements are necessary in light of experience. The criteria for assessing
3 See chapter 4 for more detail.
4 See paragraph 4.4.
5 The CMA will continue with any OFT consumer enforcement action ongoing as at 1 April 2014 as if
it is the OFT. The CMA and TSS will be able to take follow up action to enforce any undertakings
given to the OFT or Orders obtained by the OFT, when it is appropriate to do so.
the regime would be likely to include ensuring a lack of duplication between
partners, improved speed of delivery, more effective outcomes, and the
absence of an enforcement gap when tackling the most significant consumer
detriment affecting consumers.
The Legal Framework
The Public Bodies (The Office of Fair Trading Transfer of Consumer Advice
Scheme Function and Modification of Enforcement Functions) Order 20136
(the PBA Order) introduced a number of changes to the consumer
enforcement role and functions of the OFT before its abolition on 31 March
Firstly, in April 2013 the PBA Order transferred the OFT’s consumer advice
scheme function (Consumer Direct) to Citizens Advice services.7 In addition,
the relevant energy and postal legislation was amended to ensure that
industry levies to fund Consumer Direct were transferred from the OFT to
Citizens Advice services.8
Secondly, responsibility for administering a consumer facing code approval
scheme was given to the TSI and as such the OFT’s Consumer Codes
Approval Scheme closed on 31 March 20139.
In order to signal clearly the new national enforcement role for the TSS, and to
ensure the CMA is not obligated to step in and duplicate that role,
amendments were made to secondary legislation. TSS retained a duty to
enforce certain consumer legislation but the OFT’s duty to enforce such
legislation was changed to a power.10 In relation to the UTCCRs the OFT,
TSS and some sectoral regulators11 all share a power to enforce. The CMA
inherited the OFT’s leadership role for the UTCCRs.
6 See www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/783/contents/made.
7 Article 2 PBA Order.
8 Articles 5 and 6 PBA Order.
9 It is expected that a second Public Bodies Act order will be laid in draft next year and will amongst
other things, make provision for the transfer of OFT’s estate agency functions, and the transfer of
Consumer Focus functions.
10 Articles 10 to 13 PBA Order, amending the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999
(UTCCRs), the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (DSRs), the Business
Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (BPRs) and the Consumer Protection from
Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).
11 As at 1 April 2014 the sectoral regulators who can enforce UTCCRs are: FCA, OFCOM, OFGEM,
OFWAT, ORR, CAA, Utility Regulator for Northern Ireland and ICO. Which? are also able to take
enforcement action under the UTCCRs.
Consumer functions transferred to the CMA
The consumer functions transferred to the CMA at 1 April 2014 include:
using consumer enforcement powers to tackle market wide practices
including the UTCCRs (for which the CMA has the lead but shares the
power to enforce with TSS), CPRs and the Consumer Protection
(Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (DSRs) either directly or under Part 8
carrying out business facing education in relation to the application of the
UTCCRs or where a need for business education has been identified
resulting from a market study, UTCCRs cases or similar in which the CMA
has built significant expertise
receiving notifications from enforcers who are in particular required to
notify the CMA before they apply for an enforcement order under section
214 of the EA02, and taking steps to ensure coordination of enforcement
under s.216, where appropriate, acting as the UK’s Single Liaison Office
and ensuring compliance under the EU Regulation on Consumer
Protection Cooperation (CPC),12 and
having an international role on consumer law and policy liaison13, for
example representing the UK in the International Consumer Enforcement
Protection Network (ICPEN) and the Organisation for Economic Co-
operation and Development (OECD) Committee on Consumer Policy.
Relevant consumer legislation applicable to the CMA and its enforcement
work is listed at Annexe A.
12 Regulation (EC) No 2006/ 2004.
13 Schedule 4 to the ERRA13 makes specific provision for this role.
As a result of the reviews in 2010 and 2011 of the competition and consumer
landscape, the Government undertook a series of reforms to simplify the
regime for consumers and plug any perceived gaps in enforcement.
These reforms responded to the National Audit Office’s 2011 report,
′Protecting Consumers′,14 which reviewed consumer protection in the UK and
found that although much consumer detriment occurred at national and
regional level the incentives are weighted towards tackling local priorities.
This, it argued, contributed to an ′enforcement gap′ where large regional and
some national cases might not be addressed. The Government consulted on
various reforms15 and in responses to the Government’s consultation many
stakeholders agreed that the existing consumer landscape comprising an
array of public, private and voluntary bodies with overlapping responsibilities
was too complex and caused considerable consumer confusion.
In its response to the consultation on ′Empowering and Protecting
Consumers′,16 the Government set out its aim to increase consumer
reducing the complexity of the consumer landscape – the publicly funded
institutions that exist to help consumers
strengthening the effectiveness of enforcement of consumer rights, and
ensuring that activities which help consumers to be empowered are
delivered more cost-effectively and in a way that links national and local
intelligence about the problems consumers face.
Following the changes to the legislative and enforcement landscape described
in chapter 2 above, Citizens Advice services are now the home of information,
advice, education and advocacy on all general consumer matters. Further, the
Government expects the majority of national consumer enforcement action to
15 Empowering and protecting consumers: Consultation on institutional changes for provision of
consumer information, advocacy, education, advice and enforcement, June 2011, see
16 For the Governments response to the consultation see www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/consumer-
be taken on by TSS, with the CMA focusing on tackling systemic problems in
markets involving widespread practices carried out by many firms. The TSI is
now responsible for administering an approval scheme for consumer facing
codes of practice and providing guidance to business on consumer protection
legislation. The reforms also created the National Trading Standards Board
(NTSB), which is responsible for prioritising national and cross-local authority
boundary enforcement in England and Wales against unfair or unlawful
practices. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) has created
Trading Standards Scotland to perform the same role in Scotland and the
Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) will undertake it in
The structural reform of the consumer landscape is being followed by major
changes to the consumer law framework through the Consumer Rights Bill,17
which will potentially impact significantly on the consumer powers of the CMA.
The role of consumer powers in the CMA
Experience strongly suggests that competition and consumer policy are
linked. Good consumer outcomes rely on competitive markets to provide
choice and value, while vibrant competition relies on consumers confidently
shopping around. Competition problems can often manifest themselves in
businesses failing to comply properly with consumer protection laws, which in
turn can prevent consumers driving effective competition and lower prices
through the exercise of informed choice.
An understanding of consumer policy can help competition analysis through a
better understanding of consumer detriment and how consumers interact with
businesses. Lessons from consumer behaviour can inform how remedies are
likely to work in practice and whether they will be effective. Useful alternative
or additional remedies to competition problems can sometimes be found in the
consumer toolkit. For example, activating consumer choice by increasing
suppliers' obligations to disclose information in combination with increased
consumer awareness can kick-start markets where there is a lack of
The CMA will seek to target consumer enforcement action where it can secure
wide-ranging changes to markets and tackle significant consumer detriment,
particularly in emerging trends. The CMA will place its interventions in the
context of broader market analysis with cases informed by clear theories of
17 See www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-consumer-rights-bill.
harm which take account of dynamic economic analysis where necessary.
This helps ensure that interventions are proportionate to need and do not
impose unnecessary burdens on business but, on the contrary, help create a
framework in which competitive business can thrive and consumers are
For the CMA, enforcement action may be appropriate where it has determined
that breaches of law point to systemic failures in a market (sector or
geographic), where changing the behaviour of one business would set a
precedent or have other market-wide implications, where there is an
opportunity to set an important legal precedent or where there is a strong
need for deterrence or to secure compensation for consumers. The CMA will
make strategic choices about the cases it takes and apply its prioritisation
principles. It is not the role of the CMA to take a case against a single national
company purely because it is a large company and/or the case requires
significant resource. Under the new arrangements in the consumer landscape
most single trader national cases are likely to be taken by TSS. For the CMA
to take a case there would often need to be an additional factor to
demonstrate why the case is justified in wider market terms. However, where
cases relate to breaches of the UTCCRs, it is possible that the CMA, as lead
authority, would take cases without a wider market justification, to uphold the
effectiveness of the regime.
3.10 The CMA will work with partners through the CPP to assess and provide
coordinated responses to economic threats to consumers. It will work with
trade bodies and firms to develop market-wide solutions and, where
necessary, pursue multiparty enforcement and litigation, generally in the
higher courts. The CMA will take largely civil cases, often relying on legislation
such as the UTCCRs which can only be used in the civil courts. It acts mainly
in the High Court and above, supported by the specialist advisory and
litigation resources that are needed for such cases. Where a business, which
is party to CMA action, has a primary authority relationship with a TSS office,
the CMA will, where appropriate, liaise in the first instance with the relevant
TSS department before approaching the business.
3.11 TSS shares many of the same consumer enforcement powers as the CMA but
they tackle different sorts of consumer detriment. The national role of TSS has
now been increased significantly by the landscape reforms, with additional
funding being awarded for TSS specifically to take national cases under the
control of a new national leadership structure led by the NTSB in England and
Wales, and CoSLA in Scotland. It is expected that TSS will take an increased
number of national cases, including those that would have previously been
taken by the OFT prior to the landscape reforms. The size of a case and
resource needed to run it will not in themselves, subject to any TSS
prioritisation criteria, be relevant factors for not taking a case.
3.12 TSS will also continue to address local and regional detriment caused by
rogue traders, including doorstep crime and scams, using effective
partnerships with local agencies and in-depth knowledge of local markets and
3.13 Part 8 EA02 (and certain other consumer protection law) place a duty on TSS
and other enforcers to notify the CMA before seeking an enforcement order
and after obtaining one. Enforcers are deemed to have notified the CMA when
they have updated the Consumer Regulations Website with details of the
The CMA believes that it can have a greater impact on markets by working
together with all partner organisations to identify and address issues that
create market problems and consumer detriment.
The reforms to the consumer protection regime in the UK following the BIS
consultation on the consumer landscape 'Empowering and Protecting
Consumers'18 introduced a number of changes to the roles and
responsibilities of UK consumer protection bodies. These changes are in
addition to the creation of the CMA via the ERRA13.
The reforms have also created a number of new fora for UK consumer
protection bodies to share intelligence, priorities and identification of risks, to
ensure that consumer issues are handled by the appropriate body and do not
fall between consumer bodies. The CMA will participate fully in the new co-
ordinating groups such as the CPP and work to avoid duplication of effort and
the emergence of enforcement gaps. The CMA will use such groups to share
intelligence, best practice, and help to build enforcement capability.
Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP)
The CPP was set up to ensure coherent and strategic delivery of
enforcement, information provision and education across the consumer
landscape. The group works together to share intelligence, identify current or
future issues that are likely to adversely affect consumers and agree priorities
for work to resolve or mitigate such problems. In essence, the role of the CPP
is to ensure that partners work together effectively and important issues are
tackled and do not fall between partners in the consumer landscape due to
The membership of the CPP, as at 1 April 2014, is:
Primary responsibilities in consumer landscape
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
Government lead for consumer policy in the UK
Trading Standards in England and Wales, represented by the
Enforcement and threat assessment – local,regional and
National Trading Standards Board (NTSB)
national in England and Wales
18 See www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/consumer-issues/docs/e/12-510-empowering-protecting-
Primary responsibilities in consumer landscape
Trading Standards Scotland, overseen by the Convention of
Enforcement – local, regional and national enforcement
Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) and with co-ordination and
action via Trading Standards Scotland (TSScot)
Trading Standards in Northern Ireland – Department of Enterprise,
Enforcement – local, regional and national enforcement
Trade and Investment (DETI)
in Northern Ireland
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
Business education and Consumer Codes Approval
Enforcement to address systemic failures in a market,
where changing the behaviour of one business would
set a precedent or have other market-wide implications,
where there is an opportunity to set an important legal
precedent or where there is a strong need for
deterrence or to secure compensation for consumers.
UTCCRs enforcement leadership, enforcement and
Citizens advice (England and Wales) and
Consumer advocacy, education and provision of
consumer advice including the Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice Scotland
Consumer advocacy, education and advice
Consumer Council for Northern Ireland
Consumer advocacy, education and advice
Local Authority Trading Standards Services (TSS)
TSS are the CMA’s key partners in implementing the consumer law regime
(which lies at the heart of UK economic policy). The CMA shares enforcement
powers and works closely with them to provide an efficient and effective
service for both consumers and businesses.
TSS are funded by, and accountable to, local authorities. They are required to
work to national priorities set by government departments and agencies, as
well as local priorities set by elected councillors which focus on the particular
needs of the local community. They also enforce a far broader range of
legislation than the CMA and often have responsibility for animal health, food
safety and underage sales of tobacco, alcohol, knives and fireworks.
Following the BIS consultation on the consumer landscape and the
Government's response 'Empowering and Protecting Consumers',19 in April
2013, TSS were given greater responsibility for consumer law enforcement,
including national and cross-local authority boundary enforcement. As a
result, both TSS and the CMA take cases of national scope, so partnership
working between the CMA and TSS is important to ensure that the collective
work of both complement each other in the protection of UK consumers via
England and Wales
The CMA will work closely with TSS, and in particular the NTSB, which
provides leadership, influence and support to ensure that regional and
national cases in England and Wales are taken by TSS. The National Tasking
Group (NTG), a sub-group of the NTSB with its own decision making ability,
brings together representatives from across English Welsh TSS, along with
representatives from the CMA. The purpose of the NTG is to consider,
prioritise and task cases where harm is being caused to consumers nationally.
It is the forum through which TSS and the CMA will decide who is best placed
to take particular cases. The CMA will play an active role on the NTG to help
ensure that the division of responsibility for priority cases is agreed on the
basis of the new roles for TSS and the CMA as set out by the Government.
4.10 In the majority of cases that reach the NTG, TSS are likely to be best placed
to lead. However, in borderline cases where action from CMA is considered,
the NTG/CMA will look at factors such as the prevalence of issues of
consumer choice, relevance of unfair contract term issues and the systemic
nature of a problem across a market in deciding who is best placed to act.
Scotland and Northern Ireland
4.11 CoSLA provides political oversight and leadership to TSS in Scotland and is
responsible for allocation of the funding provided by BIS for national and
regional enforcement by TSScot. For Northern Ireland, all trading standards
activity takes place within the DETI, rather than as part of a local authority's
4.12 The CMA will work with CoSLA, TSScot and DETI to identify priority cases of
consumer detriment in Scotland and Northern Ireland and decide whether any
of these may be appropriate for the CMA.
The Trading Standards Institute
4.13 Following the reforms to the consumer landscape, the TSI were given (in
addition to code approval functions formerly exercised by the OFT)
responsibility for producing the majority of education and guidance aimed at
businesses in relation to their responsibilities under consumer protection
CMA business guidance
4.14 In some circumstances it will be appropriate for the CMA to issue its own
guidance to business, particularly, for instance, where this relates to the
UTCCRs, or is based on detailed knowledge gained from a market study,
precedent setting case or similar in which the CMA has built significant
expertise. The CMA will:
consult appropriately with TSI and other partners across the consumer
landscape prior to publishing such guidance in final form, and
encourage dissemination of its guidance via the TSI along with the TSI's
own portfolio of guidance to businesses.
Concurrent consumer enforcers
4.15 As well as the consumer enforcement powers shared with TSS, the CMA
shares most of its consumer powers with a number of other agencies, many of
which have enforcement responsibilities for particular economic sectors. The
CMA views working closely with these concurrent enforcers as important in
order to avoid duplication in effort and instead to maximise the impact of
interventions for consumers.
4.16 Through the Consumer Concurrencies Group (CCG), the CMA and other
agencies aim to improve clarity and share best practice on overlapping areas
of responsibility, such as unfair terms legislation, especially in relation to
4.17 The CMA chairs the CCG, which as at 1 April 2014 is made up of:
Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Office of the Rail Regulator
Premium rate (or phone-paid) telephone services in the
Cross-economy (limited consumer enforcement powers
in relation to Part 8 EA02)
Consumer Protection Cooperation Enforcement forum
4.18 The CMA, through its role as the UK’s Single Liaison Office, coordinates work
at a national level under Regulation 2006/2004 on cooperation between
national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection
laws (the CPC Regulation).22 This is primarily done through an Enforcement
Forum which comprises all UK designated CPC authorities23 and BIS. The
Forum meets shortly before each CPC Committee meeting to allow UK CPC
authorities to exchange experiences, keep abreast of European and domestic
developments and feed in views for the forthcoming Committee meetings.
20 The ASA has specific individual self-regulatory powers, but rely on TSS as the default statutory
backstop following the 2013 landscape regime changes.
21 Which? is a private consumer body , rather than a traditional enforcer and as such its enforcement
powers are more limited than the CMA or the sectoral regulators listed above.
22 The CPC Regulation set up an EU-wide network of national enforcement authorities with similar
investigation and enforcement powers known as ‘competent authorities’. From April 2014 the CMA
has been designated as the UK’s Single Liaison Office and a competent authority for CPC
23 See paragraph 4.30.
Between meetings, UK authorities are updated on CPC developments and
consulted for input, for example by questionnaires, involvement in projects
and common activities.
Citizens Advice and other consumer bodies
4.19 The CMA will make use of a variety of intelligence sources in considering
where it will be appropriate to act, both in terms of enforcement action and in
conducting market studies. Important to this is information gained by
consumer bodies and in particular Citizens Advice services who run the
national consumer advice services in England, Scotland and Wales. Citizens
Advice services provide first tier advice to consumers on how to resolve their
consumer complaints with traders and where appropriate refer
issues/complaints to enforcers for enforcement consideration. The information
obtained will be an important source of intelligence on types of consumer
complaints and markets in which consumers are dissatisfied.
4.20 Consumer advocacy in respect of energy and postal services, and water in
Scotland, has transferred from Consumer Focus to the new Consumer
Futures, which is designed to represent the interests of consumers across
markets subject to economic regulation. In 2014 Consumer Futures became
part of Citizens Advice services.
4.21 In addition to working collaboratively with Citizens Advice services, the CMA
will maintain working relations with other consumer bodies with differing
geographical scope, for example the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland
and those consumer bodies with a focus on special interest groups, for
example charities with a focus on issues such as age, disability etc.
Self-regulation, established means and compliance partnerships
4.22 Alongside the partnership working with co-enforcers of consumer protection
legislation the CMA will consider, where appropriate, working with self-
regulation, established means and compliance partnerships.
4.23 The CMA is committed to working with self-regulatory solutions where they
add value to its consumer protection work, both as a potential alternative to
enforcement action or as a potential remedy to address market problems
identified in its market study investigations.
Established means/compliance partnerships in relation to the CPRs and BPRs
4.24 Bodies with alternative, and sometimes non-legislative powers, may also be
regarded as established means or compliance partners for the purposes of
ensuring consumer protection. Such bodies may have other methods of
gaining legal compliance from businesses.
4.25 Under the CPRs the CMA is required to: 'have regard to the desirability of
encouraging control of unfair commercial practices by such established
means as it considers appropriate having regard to all the circumstances of
the particular case.'24 The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing
Regulations 2008 (BPRs) contains similar provisions.
4.26 The CMA understands that these regulations are intended to encourage the
control of unfair commercial practices/misleading marketing activities through
the use of alternative sets of arrangements where it is appropriate to do so.
The primary concern is to gain compliance. If an alternative process is well
placed to achieve this in place of the CMA, then this expands the reach of
compliance processes in the UK.
4.27 In working with established means/compliance partnerships the CMA will have
regard to the following principles.25
In circumstances where the CMA is aware of, or suspects, non-compliance
with the Regulations, it may deal with the matter itself, or seek to refer the
matter to compliance partner(s), in line with its prioritisation principles.
The CMA targets its enforcement activity towards cases that are likely to
deliver high impact results for consumers, in line with its prioritisation
principles. The CMA will intervene in those cases where it is appropriate for
it to do so, but, using appropriate 'established means' as a first port of call for
resolving compliance issues will expand the reach of the Regulations and
bring benefits to consumers, business and enforcers alike.
24 Regulation 19.4. Based on principles originally developed by the OFT, see
The CMA will seek to refer a matter to the compliance partner best placed to
resolve the problem. The CMA may consider it appropriate in some
circumstances for different partners to tackle different elements of an issue.
Where appropriate, the CMA will seek to nominate a 'lead partner' which
may in turn seek to liaise with other interested parties. In making this
assessment we will have regard to the principles of better regulation, any
protocols that are in place between the OFT and its partners and the
principle of who is best placed to act.
When assessing which partner may be best placed to deal with the issue the
CMA will satisfy ourselves that the chosen partner has an effective way of
bringing about the control of unfair commercial practices. The CMA will
therefore not pass on an issue to a body that has shown itself unwilling or
incapable of controlling unfair commercial practices. The CMA will consider
and engage with those partners that are relevant to the circumstances of the
particular case. So what is appropriate in one case may not necessarily be
appropriate in another.
Factors the CMA will take into account in referring to a compliance partner or
partners may include:
degree of detriment
geographical location of detriment
sector in which the detriment is arising
nature and seriousness of the unfair commercial practice
complexity of the issue
history of the trader in dealing with compliance requests, and
degree of compliance partner's alignment with the public interest.
The CMA will use its discretion to decide who is best placed to meet the
circumstances of each particular case. The CMA may approach a different
body or use a different set of arrangements from those used on a previous
occasion. This is not to say the CMA will be inconsistent in its referrals and
in most cases it will be clear who is best placed to act.
In considering whether compliance partners are an effective means of
addressing non-compliance the CMA will look for the following essential and
A body, or set of arrangements, will be able to demonstrate the following:
it has adequate resources to address instances of non-compliance within
it is law abiding in its own operation
it is recognised by its community
it is properly incentivised to act
it has systems to place requirements on its community
it has systems to enforce those requirements within its community
there is an appropriate degree of independence in governance
there is an appropriate degree of objectivity in governance
it has regard for principles of better regulation and the Human Rights Act
with regard to the rights of consumers and traders/businesses
it has adequate controls in place for the safeguarding of confidential
it is willing to report to the CMA on its compliance partnership activity.
will also be able to display some or all of the following:
systems for providing information/communication within markets
a public facing element that may incorporate a complaint handling facility,
systems for staying abreast of developments in the law
Ultimately, the CMA is empowered to enforce the Regulations
The CMA wishes to foster trust with its compliance partners. However, the
CMA will only consider making referrals to compliance partners that appear
to it to meet the qualities described above to a sufficient degree. If a body
fails to address an unfair commercial practice in a market speedily and
successfully, the CMA may refer a matter to another compliance partner or
take action itself to prevent continued harm to consumers. The CMA expects
action taken by a compliance partner will be successful in the vast majority
of cases. However, it will always retain its discretion to refer or not to refer to
a compliance partner and whether to intervene in any case following referral.
International partnerships – partnership working across the European Union
4.39 The CMA is part of a pan European network of public consumer protection
bodies introduced with the CPC. The CPC was formally adopted by the
European Parliament and Council in October 2004 and aims to improve and
formalise and facilitate co-operation between public authorities responsible for
the enforcement of consumer protection laws on behalf of Member States on
cross-border infringements of EU consumer law. It ensures the quality and
consistency of enforcement of consumer protection laws and the monitoring of
the protection of consumers' economic interests by enabling national
authorities to exchange information and cooperate with counterparts in other
Member States as easily and seamlessly as with other authorities in their own
4.40 The CPC requires the creation of a network of public enforcement bodies
('competent authorities', see paragraph 4.24 above for a definition) across the
EU. These bodies are responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection
legislation in Member States. A member of the network can call upon a
member in another Member State to supply information about, or to take
action against, a trader in their jurisdiction whose acts and or omissions may
be causing detriment to the consumers in another Member State in breach of
specified EU consumer protection laws (an 'intra-Community infringement').
This is described in the CPC as 'mutual assistance'. Competent authorities
receiving such a request (referred to in the CPC as 'requested authorities')
effectively have to address and act upon the alleged breaches in the same
way they would if they were dealing with a purely domestic case. Accordingly,
the CPC creates a series of duties on the enforcement bodies in the network
in order to deliver an effective EU wide enforcement system.
Single Liaison Office and Competent Authorities
4.41 The operation of the network involves the setting up and designation of
various enforcement bodies, as below.
Single Liaison Offices (SLOs): This is the public authority in each Member
State which has ultimate responsibility for coordinating the application of
the CPC in their country. The CMA is the SLO for the UK.
′Competent Authorities′: These are the public authorities (whether at
national, regional or local level) which have specific responsibilities to
enforce the laws which protect consumers' interests and which have rights
and duties under the mutual assistance provisions of the CPC. There is
no limit on the number of competent authorities in each Member State. In
the UK, competent authorities currently comprise of the CMA, the Civil
Aviation Authority, the Office of Communications, the Financial Conduct
Authority, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority and the
Information Commissioner’s Office.
'Article 8(3)' bodies: The CPC permits Member States to designate other
public authorities or private enforcement bodies which have a legitimate
interest in the cessation or prohibition of consumer law breaches in their
jurisdiction, in order to help carry out Member States' obligations under
the CPC. Under Article 8(3) competent authorities can effectively sub-
contract the enforcement of cross-border cases to such a body (subject to
conditions), though ultimate responsibility for ensuring the case is dealt
with remains with the competent authority which has received the mutual
assistance request. In the UK, the following have been designated as
Article 8(3) bodies:
o every local weights and measures authority in Great Britain (TSS)
International – wider international working
CMA26 is a member of the International Consumer Protection and
Enforcement Network (ICPEN).27
4.43 ICPEN was set up in 1992 to help governmental consumer law enforcers in
different countries join forces in tackling cross border problems. The CMA
actively supports the aims of ICPEN, which are to:
protect consumers' economic interests around the world
share information about cross-border commercial activities that may affect
among law enforcement agencies
(including co-ordinating an annual worldwide internet sweep searching for
sites that make false or deceptive promises).
4.44 The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was
set up in 1961 to assist countries in fostering good governance and reforming
and improving their economic policies to generate greater economic growth. It
provides a forum in which governments can work together to share
experiences and seek solutions to common problems.
London Action Plan
4.45 The London Action Plan was agreed by 19 bodies from 15 countries to
communicate and cooperate on enforcement action to tackle economic
threats to consumers online and malware.
4.46 The plan aims to develop international links to address spam and spam-
related problems. Participating government bodies have made commitments
to actions including:
26 The CMA took the place of the OFT in ICPEN from April 2014.
encouraging communication and coordination between agencies to
achieve efficient and effective enforcement
regular conference calls to discuss: cases, legislative developments,
investigative techniques, ways to address obstacles to enforcement,
consumer and business education projects
encouraging dialogue between government agencies and private sector
representatives to promote ways to support government agencies in
bringing spam cases and pursue their own initiatives to fight spam.
4.47 The action plan is open for other interested government agencies and for
appropriate private sector representatives to join in order to expand the
network of bodies working together to combat economic threats to consumers
The CMA’s Approach To Compliance And Enforcement Of
Consumer Protection Law
Consumers are best served by competitive markets where businesses
compete fairly for custom in compliance with the law. The CMA believes that
most businesses aim to treat their customers fairly and comply with the
consumer protection law that the CMA enforces.28
The law sets minimum standards for behaviour in markets and the CMA has a
range of enforcement options to ensure compliance with them.
diagram29 below illustrates the range of enforcement and compliance
options available to the CMA. It shows enforcement options including civil and
criminal powers but also the flexibility of the CMA approach in using clear,
targeted and timely information, advice and education to secure compliance.
Further detail on the CMA’s approach to compliance and enforcement is set
28 See Annexe A for a list of consumer protection legislation enforced by the CMA.
29 The diagram does not replicate the order in which options are considered.
The CMA’s Approach to Compliance
As set out in Chapter 4, the CMA encourages higher standards using tools
other than enforcement either itself or through working with compliance
For example, the CMA supports the provision of clear, targeted and timely
information and guidance to businesses, to educate, enable and encourage
their compliance with consumer protection legislation, and to consumers, to
educate and empower them and so reduce the need for enforcement action.
The CMA may issue specific guidance to businesses in a sector where, for
example, it has published a market study, or to businesses in relation to the
application of the UTCCRs.
The CMA relies, where appropriate, on its compliance partners to educate
consumers,30 to encourage compliance and also to deal with consumer
Further detail on the CMA’s relationship and division of work as between
compliance partners is set out in chapter 4.
The CMA’s Approach to Enforcement
When it is necessary to use enforcement action to achieve compliance, the
CMA aims to ensure that such interventions deliver high impact results, for
example, by changing market behaviour, clarifying laws or providing the
necessary level of deterrence to those who would deliberately flout their legal
obligations. The CMA takes a risk-based approach, prioritising its actions to
ensure resources are used to maximum effect and to avoid burdening
business with the costs of unnecessary interventions. The CMA aims to be as
robust as necessary to gain compliance while allowing maximum freedom for
effective competition within the law.
30 In relation to consumer guidance on consumer law, the role in educating consumers is provided by
Citizens Advice services.
31 While the CMA has powers under the CPRs to take enforcement action in response to a complaint
concerning misleading advertising, in practice the CMA will give existing organisations, in this case
the Advertising Standards Authority (a self-regulatory body which as a compliance partner acts as
'established means' for this purpose) the opportunity to deal with complaints in the first instance.
5.10 The CMA is committed to the principles of good regulation in relation to its
enforcement action as set out in statute32 and aims to ensure when carrying
out such activity that its action is:
proportionate and consistent
5.11 The way the CMA applies these principles is set out below.
5.12 The CMA decides its enforcement approach to any particular case in light of
all the facts before it, its current overall priorities, its appropriate resources
and the appropriate legal considerations such as whether there is a power to
5.13 The CMA generally prioritises its work according to its prioritisation
principles33 however where appropriate, the CMA may also take account of
other relevant factors.
5.14 The CMA fully recognises the need to ensure that its interventions are
proportionate. In considering the proportionality of interventions the CMA
takes into account issues such as:
the likely direct effect of enforcement on consumer welfare in the market
or sector where the intervention takes place
the indirect effects of any action, particularly on the working of relevant
markets, including deterrence; for example where the practice is new and
likely to be repeated or copied, the deterrent effect of enforcement action
is likely to be higher
32 See section 21 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and in the Regulator’s
Compliance Code 2007 – currently due for relaunch in revised form in April 2014.
33 The CMA consulted on its Prioritisation Principles
and is analysing responses at the time of
the likelihood of a successful outcome and the risks of not taking action
bearing in mind the seriousness of any breach of the law and any impact
on the effectiveness of the consumer protection regime
the available options, from advice on compliance, compliance partners’
intervention, warning letters, undertakings, interim measures, injunctive
action or enforcement orders through to criminal prosecution
the extent of any administrative burdens likely to be imposed by these
various interventions, particularly taking account of the size of the
business or businesses involved
the type of action to which the particular business will best respond
intelligence, including knowledge of the business's intent and past
whether the resource requirements of the action are proportionate to
achieving the desired results.
Consistent and targeted
5.15 It is the CMA’s intention to avoid a situation whereby a business receives
multiple approaches on similar or linked issues, or approaches reflecting
different interpretations of the law, so it can deal effectively with a single body
and expect a consistent approach.
5.16 Where powers are shared between separate authorities, the CMA works on
the principle that action should always be taken by the body that is best
placed, following appropriate consultation with other compliance partners,
particularly where consultation is required, and taking account of both
statutory and non-statutory schemes (such as voluntary or self regulation).
The CMA will also work with compliance partners to assist a consistent
interpretation of consumer protection laws. Further detail on the CMA’s work
with other partners is set out in chapter 4.
5.17 In carrying out its functions, the CMA endeavours to act fairly and applies its
procedures to achieve consistent outcomes in the market. This does not mean
that the CMA will always take the same steps to enforce the law in the same
way on apparently comparable cases or use the same legislative option –
rather the CMA aims to tailor the action to the individual circumstances. The
CMA, across all its consumer enforcement activities, assesses each case on
its own merits, taking account of risk and of the need for proportionality,
deterrence and achieving high levels of compliance.
5.18 The CMA will carry out projects that estimate and evaluate the impact of its
work, which seek to ensure its actions are cost-effective, well targeted and
that any burdens imposed on legitimate businesses are proportionate to
benefits obtained for consumers. The CMA will consider the impact of its work
in various ways, including, for example, analysis of complaints, soliciting views
of trade bodies and businesses affected and independently commissioned
Transparency in the CMA’s consumer enforcement work
5.19 The CMA is committed to the principle of transparency in its consumer
enforcement work. Detail on the CMA’s overall commitment to transparency
and its approach to disclosure can be found in Transparency and disclosure:
Statement of the CMA’s policy and approach
5.20 In general, the CMA aims to be as transparent as it can about its enforcement
activities to aid consumer and business understanding of how it seeks to
ensure markets work well. The CMA seeks to provide full, clear and timely
information and guidance on legal requirements. In addition, the CMA:
deals with enquiries about its enforcement activities in line with the
requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), while also
having regard to legal protections enjoyed by information subjects
publishes information that it is in the public interest to disclose, in
particular via an approved Information Scheme35 under FOIA, and
where possible and appropriate, shares or exchanges information with
other regulators (as far as permitted by legal disclosure restrictions), to
facilitate the exercise of its functions and/or the exercise of the functions
of the regulators concerned.
34 See www.gov.uk/government/publications/transparency-and-disclosure-statement-of-the-cmas-
35 The Freedom of Information Act requires every public authority to have a publication scheme,
approved by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in order to make certain classes of
information routinely available, such as policies and procedures, minutes of meetings, annual
reports and financial information.
5.21 In making disclosures to the public, the CMA takes into account the need to
comply with any statutory constraints on the disclosure of information that
protect businesses and individuals under Part 9 of the EA02 and under the
Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA98), and has full regard to the importance of
5.22 When the CMA decides to launch an investigation of a case which falls within
its prioritisation principles it will inform the parties directly involved of the
decision to open a case. This may be done in the course of contact with the
parties or a case initiation letter.
5.23 Although the level of detail may vary depending on the circumstances of the
case, the CMA aims to tell the businesses concerned:
the business activity or practice causing concern
the law(s) allegedly breached and/or the law to be enforced, including the
CMA’s enforcement role
an explanation of the next steps including timescales and the possible
consequences of failure to respond
the risks the CMA has identified which it believes make enforcement
the contact details for the main CMA contacts for the case.
5.24 However, it may not be appropriate to inform the parties directly involved
when doing so may prejudice an investigation. For example, in a criminal
investigation, there will be circumstances where the CMA will move without
notice towards the exercise of criminal powers without any notification to the
parties or business subject to the investigation.
5.25 The CMA will place a case opening announcement on the CMA’s webpages
to announce its decision to formally begin a case, unless to do so would
prejudice the case or would otherwise be inappropriate.
5.26 On completing a case in relation to which a formal case opening
announcement has been made, the CMA will publicise the outcome of court or
administrative proceedings, the successful negotiations of undertakings,
requirements, determinations, interim measures and orders, unless it would
be inappropriate to do so. The CMA will also, where appropriate, publish case
closure decisions on prioritisation grounds on the CMA’s webpages,36 taking
account of the need to:
deter others from engaging in similar kinds of conduct
warn consumers about practices that are detrimental to their interests
increase consumers' awareness of their rights
facilitate complaints about further breaches, and educate other
businesses in the market
create an open public record of the CMA’s consumer enforcement work.
5.27 The CMA is accountable to the public through Parliamentary scrutiny in
Westminster and the devolved administrations, for example through inquiries
by select committees.
5.28 A member of the public may complain to the Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman via a Member of Parliament about the CMA’s
administrative actions, after seeking to resolve the complaint with the CMA.
The CMA will have regard to the Ombudsman’s Principles of Good
Administration, which are:
getting it right
being open and accountable
acting fairly and proportionately
putting things right, and
seeking continuous improvement.
5.29 The CMA will set out its consumer objectives, as part of its Annual Plan which
is laid before Parliament. The CMA is accountable to Parliament for the
delivery of these objectives via the presentation of its Performance Report.,
36 Sections 215(1), 219(2) and 220(2) and (3) of the EA02 and other relevant consumer protection
which will also provide information on its ongoing consumer work in the public
5.30 Further detail on the CMA’s commitment to accountability and its complaints
procedure is set out in ′Transparency and disclosure: Statement of the CMA’s
policy and approach
37 See document CMA6 on www.gov.uk/cma.
The Use Of Civil Consumer Enforcement Powers By The
Part 8 of the EA02 deals with provisions for the enforcement of consumer
protection legislation. It gives the CMA, along with other enforcers,38 powers
to apply to the courts for an enforcement order to stop a business from
breaching certain legislation, where the breach harms the collective interests
of consumers. Such breaches are known as either domestic infringements or
Domestic infringements are breaches of a wide range of specified UK laws.
Community infringements are acts or omissions that breach UK legislation
implementing a number of listed EU consumer protection directives or
regulations and which harm the collective interests of consumers.39 In each
case the breach must affect, or have the potential to affect, consumers
generally or a group of consumers. This must be established by the evidence
gathered by the CMA or other enforcer.
For the CMA, enforcement action may be appropriate where it has determined
that breaches of law point to systemic failures in a market, where changing
the behaviour of one business would set a precedent or have other market-
wide implications, where there is an opportunity to set an important legal
precedent or where there is a strong need for deterrence or to secure
compensation for consumers. The CMA will make strategic choices about the
cases it takes and apply its prioritisation principles.
This chapter summarises the consumer enforcement powers conferred on the
CMA under Part 8 of the EA02, as well as the procedures that apply and the
limits to those powers. More detailed guidance on Part 8 of the EA02 is
available in the OFT guidance ′Enforcement of consumer protection
38 Including TSS, sectoral and specialist regulators and Which?.
39 The list of EU legislation was amended by the Enterprise Act 2002 (Amendment) Regulations 2006
(see www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/3363/pdfs/uksi_20063363_en.pdf) so that it includes all the
EU consumer protection laws covered by the CPC (see section 210(7A) of and Schedule 13
40 Enforcement of consumer protection legislation (OFT512) available to download at:
The proposals in the Government’s Consumer Rights Bill41 will impact on the
civil consumer enforcement regime and this document will be updated to
reflect those changes once the new legislation is in place.
Power of investigation
Access to information
The CMA has the power to require any person to answer questions in writing,
or provide information, and to produce specified documents relevant to an
investigation. This power must be exercised by serving a written notice.42 If a
person fails to comply with the notice then it is possible for the CMA to make
an application to the court43 for an order to be granted requiring the person to
provide the information.
On-site inspection powers
The CMA also has the power:
to gain access to premises without a warrant44
to require persons to produce goods or documents (including information
recorded in any form), and to require persons to give an explanation about
such goods or documents, during inspections with and without a warrant45
to seize goods or documents for certain purposes during inspections with
and without a warrant46
to enter and search premises under a warrant.47
41 For further details the draft Bill can be seen at www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-
42 Under section 224 or 225 of EA02 or the equivalent provisions of other legislation.
43 Under section 227.
44 Section 227A.
45 Section 227B.
46 Section 227B.
47 Section 227C.
These powers can be used in respect of premises including vehicles but not in
respect of premises which are used only as a dwelling.48
Power to gain access to premises without a warrant
When the power can be used
The CMA can exercise its on-site inspection powers if there is a 'reasonable
suspicion' that a Community infringement has been committed in order to
investigate whether one has occurred (or, in the case of a reasonable
suspicion that one is likely to be committed, to investigate whether it is likely to
6.10 The CMA can also exercise this power, again with reasonable suspicion, to
investigate whether a person has complied with or is complying with an
enforcement order or an interim enforcement order which has already been
made on its application, or an undertaking already given by the business to it
or to the court relating to Community infringements. This will enable the CMA
to police its enforcement orders, interim enforcement orders, or undertakings
which are already in place.
The scope of the power
6.11 For the purposes set out above, any officer of the CMA authorised in writing
(referred to in the text below as 'an authorised officer') can enter premises in
observe the carrying on of a business on the premises
inspect goods or documents on the premises
require any person on the premises to produce goods or documents
within such period as the officer considers to be reasonable. Where a
document contains illegible information, a legible copy of the information
can be required
seize goods or documents in order to carry out tests on them on the
premises or seize, remove and retain them to carry out tests on them
48 Section 227A(9).
seize, remove and retain goods or documents which he reasonably
suspects may be required as evidence of a Community infringement or a
breach of a relevant enforcement measure.
6.12 An authorised officer entering premises without a warrant may in addition
any person who is required to produce any goods or documents by virtue
of the exercise of the power
to state to the best of his knowledge and belief, where the goods or
to provide an explanation of the goods and documents produced,
to secure that any goods or documents produced are authenticated
or verified in such a manner as the authorised officer considers
6.13 An authorised officer may take copies of, or extracts from, any documents to
which he has access by virtue of exercising his powers, subject to rules
relating to legally privileged communications (see further below).
6.14 An authorised officer may enter any premises in connection with an
investigation if the occupier of the premises has been given at least two
working days' written notice of the intended entry, such notice being delivered,
left at the premises, or sent by post. 'Working day' means a day which is not
Saturday or Sunday or Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank
holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 197149 in the part of the
UK in which the premises are situated.
6.15 An authorised officer may enter premises without a warrant and without notice
if the officer has taken all reasonably practicable steps to give notice but has
been unable to do so.
6.16 In all cases, the authorised officer entering the premises must produce to any
occupier evidence of his identity and authorisation if asked to do so.
49 See www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1971/80/contents.
6.17 If the authorised officer is carrying out an inspection of premises without a
warrant the written notice of the intended entry must state:
why the entry is necessary, and
the nature of the offence that may be committed if a person obstructs or
fails to co-operate with an authorised officer when the powers of
inspection are exercised.
6.18 If the authorised officer is entering the premises without a warrant and without
written notice, he must produce to any occupier that he finds on the premises
a document containing the following information:
the reasons why the entry is necessary
the nature of the offence that may be committed if a person obstructs or
fails to co-operate with an authorised officer when the powers of
inspection are exercised (described below).
6.19 An authorised officer may only enter premises at a reasonable time and will
normally arrive at the premises during office hours. On entering the premises,
an officer will produce evidence of his identity and will also hand over a
separate document which sets out the powers of the authorised officer. Where
possible, the person in charge at the premises should designate an
appropriate person to be a point of contact for the authorised officer during the
inspection. At the end of the inspection, the authorised officer will provide,
unless it is not practicable to do so, a list of goods and documents that have
been seized, a list of extracts from documents of which copies have been
taken and copies of documents that have been seized. In circumstances
where it is not practicable to do so at the end of the inspection, a list will be
provided as soon as possible afterwards.
6.20 If the premises are unoccupied or the occupier is temporarily absent, the
authorised officer will take reasonable steps to ensure that when he leaves
the premises they are as secure as they were before he entered.
Access to legal advice
6.21 The CMA is required to give at least two working days' notice of an intended
entry for an inspection. A business is entitled to seek legal advice but, as it
has received prior notice of intended entry, the authorised officer will
commence the inspection immediately on arrival at the premises.
Power to enter premises under a warrant
6.22 An application can be made to a justice of the peace (or to a sheriff in
Scotland, and in Northern Ireland to a lay magistrate) for a warrant for an
authorised officer to enter and search any premises including vehicles but
does not include any premises used only as a dwelling.
When the power can be used
6.23 A warrant may be issued where the CMA can show that there are reasonable
grounds for believing that there are goods or documents on the premises to
which they would be entitled to have access50 and that any of the conditions
detailed below are met.
6.24 These conditions are:
that an authorised officer has been, or would be likely to be, refused
admission to the premises or access to the goods or documents
that the goods or documents would be likely to be concealed or interfered
with if an appropriate notice were given
that there is likely to be nobody at the premises capable of granting
The scope of the power
6.25 The warrant will authorise an authorised officer to:
enter the premises specified in the warrant (using reasonable force if
do anything on the premises that an authorised officer would be able to do
if he had entered the premises without a warrant
search for goods or documents which they have required a person on the
premises to produce where that person has failed to comply with such a
50 Under sections 227A, 227B and 227C(2).
take any other steps which he considers to be reasonably necessary for
preserving such goods or documents or preventing interference with them
to the extent that it is reasonably necessary to do so, require any person
who is responsible for discharging any of the functions of the business
carried on at the premises to break open a container and, if that person
does not comply with the requirement or if such person cannot be
identified, despite all reasonably practicable steps taken to do so himself.
6.26 For inspections both with and without a warrant, the authorised officer can
take persons they consider necessary to assist in the search. Such persons
may be needed to provide expertise which is not available within the CMA but
is necessary to exploit fully the terms of the warrant. For example, an IT
expert who would assist the CMA officers to retrieve information from
computers located on premises for which the warrant was issued. Or, such
persons may be contracted from investigation agencies who accompany
authorised officers to allow the search to proceed quickly and efficiently.
These are illustrative examples and should not be read as limiting the
exercise of this power.
6.27 An authorised officer may also take with him such equipment as he deems
necessary. For inspections conducted under warrant this will include
equipment that can be used to enter the premises using reasonable force if
necessary (for example, equipment that can be used to break locks) as well
as equipment that can be used to facilitate the search (for example, computer
6.28 In addition, for inspections conducted under warrant, an authorised officer will
also have the power to remove material where it is not reasonably practicable
to determine on the premises the extent to which it may be seized, if at all, but
where there are reasonable grounds to believe that it may be or contain
something authorised to be seized.51 The power also applies in relation to
property which clearly can be seized but which is contained in something that
cannot, and it is not reasonably practicable for the property to be separated
out.52 This may be the case, for example, where there is a large bulk of
51 Under section 50(1) of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (CJPA) which can be located at
52 Under section 50(2) of the CJPA.
material or where special technical equipment is needed to separate out
material the authorised officer would be entitled to take from material which
they are not (for example, material held on a computer).
6.29 The factors that the authorised officer will take into account in deciding
whether to exercise these seize and sift powers include:
how long the determination or separation of material would take if carried
out on the premises, and
in the case of separation, whether carrying out the separation on the
premises would prejudice the use of the material to be taken.
6.30 The exercise of seize and sift powers is subject to strict safeguards, which
include a requirement by the authorised officer to provide a written notice to
the occupier of the premises or the person from whom the material has been
what has been seized
the grounds for the exercise of the seize and sift powers
the grounds for a person with a relevant interest in the seized property to
apply to a judicial authority for the return of seized material
the duty of officers to secure property in certain circumstances when such
an application is made
the name and address of the person to whom notice of such an
application must be given, and
to whom an application may be made to allow the attendance at the initial
examination of the property to determine which of the property may be
retained and which must be returned.
6.31 The power to obtain information does not extend to legally privileged material
(see below). If it appears that legally privileged material has been seized, the
CMA has a duty to return this material as soon as reasonably practicable.
6.32 Application for a warrant must be made to a Justice of the Peace (in Scotland,
a Sheriff and in Northern Ireland to a lay magistrate), supported by information
on oath (in Scotland, evidence on oath) given by an officer of the CMA.
6.33 The warrant ceases to have effect at the end of the period of one month
beginning with the day of issue.
6.34 The warrant will indicate:
the premises to which it applies
the date of issue and the date of expiry
the reasons why the entry is necessary
the nature of the offences that may be committed if a person obstructs or
fails to co-operate with an authorised officer when the powers of
inspection are exercised (described below).
6.35 The authorised officer will normally arrive at the premises during office hours.
On entering the premises, the authorised officer will produce evidence of his
identity to any occupier of the premises. If requested, they must produce the
warrant to the occupier of the premises for inspection. He will also hand over
a separate document which sets out the powers of the authorised officer.
Where possible, the occupier of the premises should designate an appropriate
person to be a point of contact for the authorised officer during the search. At
the end of the inspection, the authorised officer will provide, unless it is not
practicable to do so, a list of goods and documents that have been seized, a
list of extracts from documents of which copies have been taken and copies of
documents that have been seized. In circumstances where it is not practicable
to do so at the end of the inspection, a list will be provided as soon as
6.36 If the premises are unoccupied or the occupier is temporarily absent, the
authorised officer will take reasonable steps to ensure that when he leaves
the premises they are as secure as they were before he entered.
Access to legal advice during searches
6.37 When carrying out a search, the authorised officer is not required to wait for
an individual's or a business's legal advisers to arrive before commencing the
search. That said, generally, the authorised officer will wait for legal advisers
where to do so does not unreasonably delay the commencement of the
search. If the authorised officer considers it reasonable in the circumstances
to do so, and if that officer is satisfied that the individual or business is
complying with, or will comply with, such conditions as he considers it
appropriate to impose,53 the authorised officer will grant a request to allow a
reasonable period for a legal adviser to arrive at the premises before the
inspection continues. For these purposes, a 'reasonable period' is such period
of time as the authorised officer considers is reasonable in the circumstances.
6.38 If the search does commence prior to the arrival of a legal adviser, the
authorised officer would, as far as practicable, avoid removing any material
from the premises until the legal adviser has had the opportunity to make
6.39 If the individual or business decides to seek legal advice it should do so
promptly and this must not unduly delay or impede the inspection. Any delay
must be kept to a strict minimum.
6.40 If the individual or business has an in-house legal adviser on the premises, or
if it has received prior notice of the inspection, the authorised officer and other
persons will not wait for an external legal adviser to arrive.
6.41 The authorised officer will not generally administer a caution during the course
of a search under warrant. A caution may be administered during the course
of a search under warrant if a person voluntarily decides to provide
information to the authorised officer. In this case the officer may consider it
appropriate to give a caution and advise the person that he is free to seek
legal advice. A person is not required to be cautioned prior to being asked
questions that are necessary solely for the purpose of furthering the proper
and effective conduct of a search, such as to obtain computer passwords or
Limitations on the use of the powers of investigation
Legally privileged communications
6.42 The power of the CMA to obtain documents under the EA02, whether by a
written notice, or pursuant to the power to access premises, or during the
53 Typical conditions would be designed to ensure that documents were not subject to tampering.
execution of a search warrant, does not extend to communications covered by
legal professional privilege. A person is not required to produce or disclose
any information or document which he would be entitled to refuse to produce
or disclose on grounds of legal professional privilege in proceedings in the
High Court or in the Scottish Court of Session on grounds of confidentiality of
communications. This is generally defined to mean a confidential
between a professional legal adviser and his or her client for the dominant
purpose of obtaining or giving legal advice, or
made in connection with, or in contemplation of, legal proceedings and for
the purposes of those proceedings.
6.43 If the occupier of premises entered with or without a warrant considers that a
document or information is subject to privilege, he should provide the
authorised officer or accompanying persons with a sufficient explanation such
as to demonstrate to his satisfaction that the document or information, or parts
of it, for which privilege is claimed, fulfil the conditions for it being privileged.
6.44 If no agreement is reached during the inspection as to whether or not the
conditions for privilege have been made out in relation to particular documents
or information, the authorised officer will suggest to the occupier that the
authorised officer make a copy of the documents or information and places
this in a sealed envelope or package in the presence of the occupier. The
authorised officer will then discuss with the occupier the appropriate
arrangements for the safe-keeping of the documents or information by the
CMA pending resolution of the issue of privilege. The authorised officer may, if
it is agreed that the disputed material will be retained by the occupier's legal
adviser, require the occupier's legal adviser to give (or if no legal adviser is
present, that the occupier give) a written undertaking that the disputed
material will be retained safely and that its contents will not be concealed,
removed, tampered with or destroyed until the issue of privilege is resolved.
6.45 In addition, where entry is made under warrant, and the authorised officer
exercises the powers of seize and sift described above, any legally privileged
items which have been seized will be returned as soon as reasonably
Privilege against self-incrimination54
6.46 CPC enforcers exercising their powers under the Enterprise Act 2002
(“EA02”) may compel an individual or business to provide certain information
or documents. This could include information or documents which might
involve an admission on the part of the individual or trader of the existence of
a breach of consumer law. Such information may be admissible as evidence
in civil proceedings for an enforcement order under Part 8 of the EA02.
However, the CMA is likely to face restrictions on using such information in
relation to any separate criminal action, because of the right against self-
incrimination in criminal proceedings (although information relating to facts or
pre-existing documents may be admissible).
6.47 The CMA will not normally exercise its powers under the EA02 to require
information or documents which might involve an admission on the part of the
individual or trader of the existence of a breach of consumer law in cases
where criminal proceedings are also contemplated (although it may still
require information relating to facts and the production of pre-existing
Disclosure of confidential information
EA0255 imposes a general restriction on the disclosure of ‘specified
information’, defined as information relating to the affairs of an individual or
the business of an undertaking which has come to the CMA in connection with
the exercise of its functions, unless such disclosure is permitted under one of
the ‘information gateways’ in Part 9 EA02 which are set out below. Such
information must not be disclosed during the lifetime of that individual or while
the undertaking continues in existence.56
6.49 Further information on the CMA’s approach to the treatment and disclosure of
information, including to identifying confidential information, is available in the
54 Privilege against self-incrimination is an aspect of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 6 of
the European Convention on Human Rights. This is given effect in the UK by the Human Rights
55 Part 9 of the EA02.
56 Section 237 of the EA02.
guideline ‘Transparency and Disclosure: Statement of the CMA’s policy and
Retention of documents and goods
6.50 Documents seized on the premises, under the powers described above, may
be retained for no more than three months. The same time limit applies to
goods seized under those powers unless the goods are reasonably required
in connection with the exercise of any function of the CMA under Part 8 of the
EA02. In such a case the goods may be retained for as long as they are so
6.51 Anyone who has a complaint about the conduct of the CMA in carrying out an
on-site inspection can find details of the complaint procedure in the
′Transparency and disclosure: Statement of the CMA’s policy and approach
(CMA6)’58 and at www.gov.uk/cma.
Offences relating to the Powers of Investigation
Offences created by Part 8 of the EA02
6.52 A criminal offence is committed where a person, without reasonable excuse,
intentionally obstructs or fails to co-operate with an authorised officer who is
exercising or seeking to exercise a power of inspection (outlined above).59
6.53 A person guilty of such an offence is liable on summary conviction, to a fine
not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.60
57 See CMA 6 Transparency and Disclosure (available at
, particularly chapter 5 on ‘Complaints and accountability’.
59 Section 227E of the EA02.
60 £5,000 as at 1 April 2014.
Powers to require defendants to make payments into the public purse
6.54 In relation to Community infringements, the CMA has the power itself (or more
likely by applying to the courts) to require the losing defendant to make
payments into the public purse in the event of a failure to comply with the
decision.61 In the UK, courts can impose fines for contempt of court consisting
of disobedience of court orders to cease Community infringements.
61 Article 4(6) (g) of the CPC Regulation.
The Use Of Criminal Consumer Enforcement Powers By The
While the CMA’s main enforcement instrument is Part 8 of the EA02, giving
the CMA, and other designated enforcers, the power to apply to a court for an
enforcement order to stop breaches of a range of consumer law the CMA also
has criminal prosecution powers (along with various other enforcers)62 under
the CPRs and the BPRs.63
Detailed guidance on the CPRs is available in the OFT guidance ′Guidance on
the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008′
In summary, the CPRs contain a general prohibition of unfair trading,
prohibitions of misleading and aggressive trading practices and specific
prohibitions of particular practices considered to be inherently unfair. The
CPRs cover business to consumer practices64 and apply to conduct by traders
which is directly connected to the promotion, sale or supply of a product
(including goods, services and intangibles) to or from consumers.
If a trader misleads, behaves aggressively or otherwise acts unfairly towards
consumers, then the trader is likely to be in breach of the CPRs and may face
action by enforcement authorities. TSS are the lead enforcers of the CPRs
with a duty to enforce them, and responsibility for coordinating their
application in the UK. The CMA has a power and not a duty to enforce them.
However, the CMA and TSS have complementary powers and will work in
partnership (see chapter 4), to ensure that action is taken by the most
appropriate enforcement body.
For the CMA, action may be appropriate where it has determined that
breaches of law point to systemic failures in a market, where changing the
behaviour of one business would set a precedent or have other market-wide
62 As at 1 April 2014, the enforcers with criminal prosecution powers in addition to the CMA are
Weights and Measures authorities (the TSS), the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
in Northern Ireland, and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service on behalf of the Lord
Advocate in Scotland, may also conduct prosecutions under the CPRs. A number of other
enforcers have the power to take civil injunctive action under Part 8 EA02, such as the sectoral
63 See www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2008/1277/contents/made and
64 See www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2008/9780110811475/contents - Misleading business to
business practices and comparative advertising are covered by the Business Protection from
Misleading Marketing CPRs 2008.
implications, where there is an opportunity to set an important legal precedent
or where there is a strong need for deterrence or to secure compensation for
consumers. The CMA will make strategic choices about the cases it takes and
apply its prioritisation principles.
The CMA will consider whether to enforce the CPRs either by using the civil
injunctive powers in Part 8 of the EA02 or by carrying out a criminal
investigation with a view to prosecuting those responsible. Although the CMA
is more likely to take civil cases it will, where appropriate, use its criminal
powers, acting decisively to stop offenders where this is likely to have an
effect across the market or wider economy.
The remainder of this chapter provides guidance on the circumstances in
which, having determined that enforcement action under the CPRs is
appropriate, and that the CMA is the appropriate authority to enforce, the
CMA is likely to take criminal enforcement action. It should be recognised,
however, that each case must be considered on its merits and particular
circumstances, and in some circumstances an approach different from that
suggested by this guidance may be required.
Considerations in deciding whether to commence a criminal investigation
Where the CMA determines that enforcement action is required, it will
generally use its criminal powers when:
civil enforcement is unlikely to be effective in achieving a change in
the breach is sufficiently serious that the conviction and punishment of
offenders ought to be pursued, for example to protect the public and to
provide wider deterrence.
′Prosecution′ the test which the CMA must have regard to
when it is considering prosecution.
Particular circumstances in which the CMA is therefore likely to consider
commencing a criminal investigation include:
where traders deliberately or recklessly use deceptive, misleading or
where traders deliberately or recklessly use aggressive, intimidating or
where flagrant and/or persistent offending by a trader or group of
associated traders has occurred or is occurring
where a particular unlawful practice is widespread, or there is a risk of it
becoming widespread, to the serious detriment of consumers and criminal
enforcement will send a strong deterrent message
where a particular unlawful practice is novel or unusual and it is
determined that criminal enforcement is likely to be the most effective
means by which to set a precedent for future action
where false statements are made or false documents provided in the
course of dealings with the CMA or another enforcement body or where
an investigation is otherwise obstructed.
7.10 Where cases do not have any of those features, or any combination of those
features, the CMA will generally consider alternative means of encouraging
compliance such as civil enforcement, other compliance activities or no
enforcement, depending on the potential desired outcomes. The CMA will
work with other enforcers to ensure action is taken by the most appropriate
7.11 As the CMA has both civil and criminal enforcement powers, if it becomes
apparent during the course of an investigation that a breach of the CPRs has
occurred, but for any reason criminal enforcement is no longer appropriate,
the CMA may stop the criminal investigation and deal with the breach by
alternative means, such as civil enforcement.
Carrying out investigations
7.12 The CPRs grant certain powers to authorised officers of the CMA conducting
investigations under the CPRs.65 These include powers:
to make test purchases in order to determine whether the CPRs are being
to enter premises and inspect goods in order to determine whether a
breach of the CPRs has been committed67
65 Note that these differ from the investigation powers set out in Part 8 of the EA02.
66 Regulation 20 of the CPRs.
where there is reasonable cause to suspect a breach of the CPRs has
been committed, to:
require the production of business documents, and take copies
seize goods and documents to determine whether a breach of the
CPRs has been committed, or as evidence.68
7.13 The CMA is also able, in certain circumstances,69 to apply to a magistrates’
court for a warrant to enter premises, for the purpose of exercising the powers
of production and seizure outlined above.70
7.14 The CMA will only exercise its powers under the CPRs when it considers it is
necessary and proportionate to do so. The CMA will only seize goods or
require documents to be produced that it believes to be necessary in order to
carry out an investigation effectively.
7.15 The CMA’s officers carrying out criminal investigations will have regard to the
provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the associated
Codes of Practice and will respect the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the
European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.71
7.16 A decision by the CMA to prosecute a case criminally will be taken in
accordance with the two stage test set out in the 'Code for Crown
Prosecutors', that is, the 'evidential sufficiency test' and the 'public interest'
- - - - - - - - - -
67 Regulation 21(1)(a) of the CPRs.
68 Regulation 21(1)(b)-(d).
69 Where the CMA believes there are goods or documents on the premises which are likely to
disclose evidence of a breach of the CPRs, or a breach of the CPRs has been, is being, or is
about to be committed on any premises and either admission to the premises has been or is likely
to be refused and a notice of intention to apply for a warrant has been given; or applying for
admission or giving a notice of intention to apply for a warrant would defeat the object of the entry;
or the premises are unoccupied; or the occupier is absent and it might defeat the object of the
entry to await his return.
70 Regulation 22.
71 Codes A-H issued by the Secretary of State pursuant to Section 66 PACE. See
72 www.cps.gov.uk/publications/code_for_crown_prosecutors .
7.17 Evidential sufficiency – the CMA will only commence a criminal prosecution
when satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a 'realistic prospect
of conviction'. If the case does not pass the evidential test, it will not go ahead,
no matter how important or serious the allegation may be. The CMA may
decide to look at the case under its other powers, or refer to another body if
this is deemed appropriate.
7.18 Public interest - when deciding whether to prosecute, the CMA will consider
the public interest factors set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, including
whether, in light of all the evidence, the case might more appropriately be
dealt with in another way.
7.19 Prosecutions may be brought against:
responsible for the offences
corporate bodies, or
officers of corporate bodies who have consented or connived in the
commission of the offence or where the commission of the offence by the
relevant corporate body is proved to be attributable to the officer’s
7.20 The CMA will decide who should face prosecution on a case-by-case basis,
having regard to the evidence, and the best means of achieving the CMA's
enforcement aims. In general, the CMA will seek to act against those who are
genuinely responsible for the offence(s).
7.21 The CMA will determine the most appropriate charge or charges in each case
on the evidence and with a view to ensuring that a court on conviction will
have sufficient powers to impose sentences that properly reflect the
seriousness of the offence. Charges may include offences under the CPRs
and any other statutory or common law offences that are disclosed by the
7.22 The offences under the CPRs are:
- - - - - - - - - -
73 Regulation 15.
requirements of the ′general prohibition′74
misleading omissions (including the omission of specified information in
invitations to purchase)76
specific unfair commercial practices.78
7.23 The offences above are all strict liability offences, apart from contravention of
the general prohibition (as explained in footnote 74), which requires proof of
′mens rea′.79 For strict liability offences it need only be shown that there has
been a prohibited act or omission.
7.24 Breach of most of the prohibitions contained in the CPRs means that an
offence may have been committed, unless a defence can be shown. The
defences available for the strict liability offences are those of due diligence80
and innocent publication.81 These defences are not available for the general
74 Regulation 3 - For a person to be convicted of a contravention of the general prohibition, which is a
′mens rea′ offence, it must also be shown that he had a specified state of mind and his actions
distort (or are likely to distort) the economic behaviour of the average consumer. The specified
state of mind will be knowingly or recklessly engaging in a commercial practice which fails to
comply with the requirement of professional diligence.
75 Regulation 5 (except 5(3)(b) – code commitments).
76 Regulation 6.
77 Regulation 7.
78 Schedule 1 – apart from numbers 11 and 28.
79 This is a legal term implying a mental element in the offence, for example knowledge or
80 To be able to rely on the defence of due diligence, the person accused must prove that the
commission of the offence was due to a mistake, reliance on information given by another person,
the act or default of another, an accident, or another cause beyond his control, and, in addition,
that he took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the
offence or to avoid someone under his control committing it.
81 The person accused who wishes to rely on this defence must prove that he is a person whose
business is to publish or arrange publication of advertisements, he received the advertisement in
the ordinary course of business, and that he did not know and had no reason to suspect that the
publication would amount to an offence.
7.25 In qualifying cases the CMA will usually ask the sentencing court to proceed
with a view to making a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act
2002 unless it would be unjust to do so.
7.26 The general penalties are:
on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum82
on conviction on indictment, an unlimited fine or imprisonment not
exceeding two years or both.
- - - - - - - - - -
82 This is as at 1 April 2014.
Consumer legislation under which the CMA has enforcement
A.1 The majority of consumer powers previously held by the OFT are transferred
to the CMA, as of 1 April 2014, under ERRA13.
A.2 The table below summarises the principal areas of consumer legislation under
which the CMA has enforcement powers from 1 April 2014:
The Unfair Terms in
These regulations protect consumers against unfair standard
terms in contracts they make with traders. Under the UTCCRs,
Regulations 1999 (UTCCRs) the CMA and other qualifying bodies have the power to pursue
legal action to prevent the use of unfair standard terms in
consumer contracts. If the CMA believes that a term is unfair, the
CMA has powers to ask a court for an injunction to prevent it
being used or recommended for use (civil enforcement).
Legislation available at:
The Consumer Protection
The CPRs implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive
from Unfair Trading
(UCPD)1 in the UK.
Regulations 2008 (CPRs)
The Regulations include a general duty not to trade unfairly and
seek to ensure that traders act honestly and fairly towards their
customers. They apply primarily to business to consumer
practices (but elements of business to business practices are also
covered where they affect, or are likely to affect, consumers).
In addition to civil enforcement powers, the CPRs provide the
CMA with a criminal enforcement power under these regulations.
Legislation available at:
The Consumer Protection
The DSRs are designed to protect consumers who purchase
1 As part of this implementation, the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations
2008 (BPRs) were created. These regulations prohibit advertising which misleads traders, regulate
business-to-business marketing and set out the conditions under which comparative advertising is
permitted. The CMA also has both civil and criminal enforcement powers under this business
goods and services without face to face contact with the supplier.
Regulations 1999 (DSRs)
The DSRs give extra protection to consumers who shop using
methods such as the internet, mail order, telephone or cable
The CMA has civil enforcement action powers in respect of the
Legislation available at:
Part 8 of the Enterprise Act
Under Part 8 of the EA02, bodies responsible for consumer law
2002 (Part 8 of the EA02)
enforcement, including the CMA, have powers to seek court
orders against businesses that breach a range of specific
consumer protection laws.
Civil enforcement action under Part 8 of the EA02 can be taken by
the CMA against:
Community infringements - a breach of laws by a business
which harms or is likely to harm the collective interests of
consumers under the UK laws which transpose certain EU
Directives/Regulations. These UK laws cover activities such as
unfair terms in consumer contracts, unfair commercial
practices, sale of goods, distance selling, doorstep selling and
Domestic infringements - a breach of UK laws by a business
that harms the collective interests of UK consumers. These
cover a wide range of trading activities, including sale of goods
and supply of service laws.
Under part 8 of the EA02 a single enforcement action may cover
breaches of multiple pieces of consumer protection legislation.
Legislation available at:
The Regulation on
The European Council adopted the CPC Regulation on 7 October
2004, providing for wider and formalised co-operation between
Member States on cross border infringements of EU consumer
Under the CPC the CMA acts as the UK's single liaison body
facilitating this co-operation.
2 Regulation (EC) No 2006/ 2004.
Status of OFT consumer guidance documents and
B.1 The table below indicates the status of OFT guidance documents and
publications relevant to enforcement of and compliance with consumer
legislation that had been published and were in effect prior to the transfer of
the various consumer functions to the CMA on 1 April 2014. Certain of those
documents have been adopted by the CMA Board in order to facilitate
transition to the new regime, and to minimise disruption to parties and the
STATUS OF DOCUMENT
Adopted by the CMA
Statement of consumer protection enforcement principles
Unfair contract terms guidance
A quick guide to competition and consumer protection laws
that affect your business
Enforcement of consumer protection legislation – guidance
on Part 8 Enterprise Act 2002
The OFT’s approach to promoting business compliance with
consumer protection law
Unfair standard terms
Guidance on unfair terms in holiday caravan agreements
Guidance on unfair terms in home improvement contracts
Guidance on unfair terms in package holiday contracts
Guidance on unfair terms in consumer entertainment
Guidance on unfair terms in care home contracts
Guidance on unfair terms in health and fitness club
85 OFT publications listed in this column have, at the date of publication of this guidance, been
replaced, or rendered obsolete, by CMA guidance or publications.
86 OFT publications listed in this column have been adopted by the CMA Board (subject to any
guidance prepared by the CMA in the future).
STATUS OF DOCUMENT
Adopted by the CMA
Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements
Consumer protection from unfair trading
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations: a
basic guide for business
Criminal enforcement of the Consumer Protection from Unfair
Consumer Contracts Quick Guide
Guidance for the use of on-site inspection powers under the
Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation
The EU Regulation on Consumer Protection Co-operation –
on-site inspection powers
Key issues in ongoing contracts: a practical guide
B.2 Parties should refer to those documents listed above as having been adopted
by the CMA board (the adopted guidance) for further details on the substance
and procedure around the CMA’s powers and duties in relation to
enforcement and compliance. This is subject, in particular, to the following
all references in the adopted guidance listed above must be read in the
light of the CMA consumer guidance ‘Consumer protection: Guidance on
the CMA’s approach to use of its consumer powers
in the cases of conflict between this guidance document and the adopted
guidance, this guidance document prevails
the original text of the adopted guidance has been retained unamended:
as such, that text does not reflect or take account of developments in case
law, legislation or practice since its original publication, and
all the adopted guidance should be read subject to the following cross-
references to the 'OFT' (except where referring to specific past OFT
practice or case law), should be read as referring to the CMA
references to articles of the EC Treaty should be read as referring to the
equivalent articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
certain OFT departments, teams or individual roles may not be replicated
in the CMA, or may have been renamed; a copy of the CMA's
organisational chart is available on the CMA's webpages, and
parties should check any contact details against those listed on the CMA's
webpages, which will be the most up to date.