News item

Newtownabbey car trader fined for misleading consumers

A Newtownabbey car trader was today (7 January) fined a total of £1,000 at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Mark Batsford, Whitewell Court, Newtownabbey pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for operating as a ‘hidden car trader’ and failing to disclose that cars for sale were category C or D insurance losses.

In May 2012, Trading Standards began an investigation into Mr Batsford’s trading activities and found that Mr Batsford had placed a large number of adverts for cars and vans without declaring that he was a car dealer. The adverts also failed to declare that some of the cars were Category C or D insurance losses. In one case he falsely stated that a car was “HPI Clear”.

Under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 traders commit a criminal offence if they mislead consumers about goods offered for sale.

Andrew Cooper of the Trading Standards Service said: “Car traders must ensure that all descriptions applied to the vehicles are accurate and not misleading. This includes not omitting material information regarding a vehicle. It is the duty of the car trader, as the expert, to ensure all relevant checks are conducted on vehicles prior to sale and that all information is passed to the potential buyer who can then make an informed decision.

“Mr Batsford set out to deceive consumers by failing to disclose his position as a car trader. It is a legal requirement for traders, when placing advertisements that they clearly indicate they are a trader. This enables consumers to establish whether they are buying from a private individual or a trader. This is important because when consumers buy from traders, the goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for their normal purpose. This protection does not apply to goods bought from private sellers. In these cases the buyer has no come back regarding quality or fitness for purpose. 

“Consumers should be vigilant when buying used cars and be sure to ask the trader about the car’s history.

“Car dealers should be aware that Trading Standards regularly monitor internet advertisements and will take enforcement action against any trader who is not adhering to consumer protection legislation.”

Anyone who believes they have been sold goods which have been falsely described or from a “hidden” trader should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.

Notes to editors:

1. The Trading Standards Service investigates potential criminal offences relating to misdescribed cars under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. These Regulations create offences for commercial practices which include misleading actions under Regulation 9 and misleading omissions under regulation 10. A fine of up to £5,000 can be imposed for an offence under the Regulations.

2. Regulation 12 of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations creates offences for a trader to falsely create the impression that he is not acting for the purpose relating to his trade, business, craft or profession or to falsely represent oneself as a consumer. A fine of up to £5,000 may be imposed for this offence.

3. For press enquiries please contact DETI Press Office on tel: 028 90529604. Out of office hours please contact the Duty press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. 

DATE: 7 January 2014