Guernsey Trading Standards

In Issue 32 of Aurigny’s En Voyage magazine, Ann Halliday, Counsel, talk about the The Trading Standards (Fair Trade) (Guernsey) Ordinance 2023 which came into force on 2 October 2023.

This legislation is designed to protect consumers when they purchase goods and services (the pair of shoes from the high street or the servicing of a car). It does not, however, apply to business-to-business contracts or private sales.

The Ordinance has introduced important legal protection for consumers to ensure fair and adequate treatment in their transactions with traders with a place of business in Guernsey or who supply or seek to supply goods, digital content or services to persons in Guernsey.  This ultimately means that traders now need to be acutely aware of the new requirements to avoid the risk of potential legal action.

Implied terms

The legislation covers many things, but of particular importance is the introduction of implied terms into contracts requiring goods, digital content and services to be of a satisfactory quality, that they will be as described and will be fit for their intended purpose.  If they fall short of these benchmarks, as well as being able to pursue the matter through the Courts, consumers can approach The Trading Standards Service who may act on the information provided in addition to undertaking its own market surveillance to ascertain compliance.

Providing information

 Subject to certain exceptions, there is now also a requirement for prescribed information to be provided by the trader to the consumer in a clear and comprehensible manner to include the main characteristics of the goods, digital content or services, the trader’s identity, the price, additional charges and arrangements for payment, delivery and performance. While different requirements apply to contracts made on a trader’s premises and contracts made off premises, the legislation casts its net far and wide and traders need to take action to ensure they are compliant.

Unfair contract terms

 A particularly important feature is the establishment of new rules around unfair contract terms, which are now expressly prohibited.   Contractual terms must be written in plain and understandable language so that their meaning is clear and understandable.  Any unfair terms will not be binding on the consumer.  In order to ensure compliance, businesses will need to review their existing customer contracts and procedures and make any changes to ensure they comply with the Ordinance. This may involve updating terms and conditions, training staff on the new requirements and implementing effective complaints handling procedures.

So what should I do now?

If you have a query relating to the new legislation, Babbé LLP is expertly placed to assist.   Traders must be aware of their obligations and should take steps to ensure compliance in order to avoid potential legal issues and consumer complaints.   Aside from gaining a greater understanding of the new regime, your customer contracts may need to be updated and we are here to help.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss, please contact the Corporate team at Babbé LLP.

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