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The changing landscape of local authority Trading Standards prosecutions?

UK map 66823434 s 146x219Richard Heller considers the potential impact of Qualter and others v Crown Court at Preston [2019] EWHC 906 (Admin) could have on the way regional Trading Standards services investigate and prosecute criminal offences (registration required).

This claim for judicial review, if successful, would have a significant effect on Trading Standards services investigations that extend beyond, or are entirely outside, their geographical jurisdiction, how local Trading Standards services choose to arrange or delegate their functions, as well as their ability to obtain investigative orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002).

What was the background?

This matter concerns a renewed application by the claimants (of which there are four) for permission to bring proceedings for judicial review of a decision by the Recorder of Preston to make production orders that had been sought on behalf of an accredited financial investigator (AFI) pursuant to POCA 2002, ss 345, 346.

The AFI is employed by the Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) that acts as the lead authority for Trading Standards North West (TSNW), to whom the AFI is seconded, in connection with its investigations and prosecutions.

TSNW, that operates by virtue of a protocol agreement between local participating authorities, was passed a fraud investigation that had been commenced by Lancashire Trading Standards into several companies, their directors and sales staff, that are suspected of mis-selling energy supply contracts to small business customers.

What did the court decide? What are the practical implications of the case?

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