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The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"They'll be able to take out a Stop Now order"
 real 28k

Saturday, 2 December, 2000, 13:54 GMT
Fresh crackdown on rogue traders
Market
The tougher laws aim to empower consumers
Tougher measures to tackle dodgy car dealers and other rogue traders are to be introduced by the government.

Court injunctions called Stop Now orders will enable trading standards officers, and for the first time bodies such as the Consumers' Association, to curb the tricks of persistent offenders.

It is hoped the tougher rules against unscrupulous conmen, who cause misery to thousands of consumers every year, will be in place by the end of February.

Common scam areas
Door-to-door sales
Distance selling
Misleading advertising
Unfair contract terms
Consumer credit cons
Package holiday brochure claims
Time share schemes
Drinkers are also to get rules ensuring they are served a full pint, in a new package of measures announced by Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers to protect consumers' interests

He said: "Rules and regulations are actually of little effect if they are ignored or disregarded.

"These new regulations will clamp down on traders who do not comply with a wide range of consumer protection issues."

The Stop Now orders are likely to be handed out by magistrates for first-time offenders, while persistent offenders will be dealt with by county court and high court judges.

Although the orders will not stop them from trading, those who continue to flout consumer legislation will face prosecution under the Contempt of Court Act for disobeying an order.

As well as targeting traders, the scheme will also cover the areas of TV broadcasting activities, advertising and e-commerce.

TV character Del Trotter
Delboy gets a laugh but real rip-offs cause misery
Offenders will face up to two years in jail or unlimited fines.

Mr Byers said the system would improve on current legislation, which often saw rogue traders accepting the risk of stiff fines while continuing to rip off customers.

Trading standards officers and consumer groups will be allowed to apply for the orders, which will target 11 common scams.

Mr Byers said the government also planned to use a private member's bill proposed by Wolverhampton South East MP Dennis Turner as its blueprint for full-pint measures in pubs, bars and nightclubs.

Two-year deadline

The plans, which it is hoped will be in place before Easter, will be enforced using existing weights and measures legislation.

Licensees will be given two years to swap their glasses over to newer over-sized marked versions, which tell drinkers they are getting a full measure.

After that, offenders will face 1,000 fines for failing to pull a proper pint.

Mr Byers said both measures meant the government was continuing to meet its obligations under last year's White Paper on protecting consumers.

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See also:

08 Oct 99 | UK
Crackdown on fake goods
16 Feb 00 | Business
New clampdown on rogue traders
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