The Stop Now Order (EC Directive) Regulations 2001 are part of a suite of consumer protection rules that deal with enforcement against the online retailer from a breach of consumer protection legislation.
The Stop Now Order (EC Directive) Regulations 2001 (text) implement Directive 98/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of consumers' interests, referred to in the Regulations as the "Injunctions Directive" (OJ No L166, 11.6.98, p.51)
The Regulations apply to any act contrary to a provision in certain EC consumer protection directives as transposed into the legal order of a Member State and which harms the collective interests of consumers. For the purpose of these Regulations these acts are defined as "Community infringements".
The ten relevant directives, which cover a wide range of consumer protection measures, are listed in Schedule 1.
The Regulations also contain a non-exhaustive list of the United Kingdom legislation which, for the purposes of the definition of "Community infringement", are to be regarded as transposing the ten EC directives into the United Kingdom legal order (regulation 2(3)).
The list of relevant directives for organisations transacting online includes misleading advertising, distance selling and unfair terms.
Enterprise Act and Stop Now Orders
Part 8 of the Enterprise Act replaced Part III of the Fair Trading Act 1973 and the Stop Now Orders (EC Directive) Regulations 2001. It also extended the scope of the Stop Now Order enforcement regime to include a wider range of domestic consumer protection legislation.
These orders are known as Enforcement Orders (also known as Stop Now Orders). Breach of an Order is a contempt of court and could incur a fine or imprisonment.
Enforcers can also use Enforcement Orders to clamp down on traders who fail to carry out a service with reasonable care and skill.
The Office of Fair Trading is responsible for co-ordinating enforcement action under the Regulations. Further information on the role and responsibilities of the OFT is available on the OFT web site.
Who can use Part 8 powers?
Under Part 8 of the Act three types of enforcers are identified:
(i) General Enforcers. In addition to the OFT, the Trading Standards Service in the United Kingdom and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in Northern Ireland are specified in Part 8 as having the power to act as general enforcers.
(ii) Designated Enforcers. A designated enforcer is any public or private body in the UK which the Secretary of State designates in a Statutory Instrument, having identified the person or body has the protection of the collective interests of consumers as one of its purposes.
The Secretary of State has designated the following bodies as Part 8 enforcers by a Statutory Instrument:
• The Civil Aviation Authority
• The Director General of Electricity Supply for NI
• The Director General of Gas for Northern Ireland
• The Water Services Regulation Authority
• The Gas and Electricity Markets Authority
• The Information Commissioner
• The Office of Rail Regulation
• The Financial Services Authority
• Consumers' Association (Which?)
A public body will only be granted designated enforcement powers if it is independent. By granting a public body designated enforcement powers, it is deemed that the body is conclusively identified as a public body for the purposes of Part 8.
A private organisation may be designated as an enforcer only if it fulfils the criteria specified by the Secretary of State in a Statutory Instrument.
(iii) Community Enforcers. Community enforcers are entities from other EEA states that are listed in the Official Journal of the European Communities. These enforcers may apply for injunctions in other member states.
Supervision and enforcement
The Stop Now Order (EC Directive) Regulations 2001 (text)