Why is this guidance important?

When dealing with consumers you have a number of legal obligations under consumer protection law. While there are similarities between these obligations and the CLSB’s regulatory rules,1For example, principles 1.3, 1.4, 3.4, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.6 of the Code of Conduct. it is essential that you and your firm recognise and understand these distinct consumer law rules.

In some circumstances, compliance with our regulatory rules will mean you are compliant with your consumer law obligations. However, it is important to note that this will not always be the case. Similarly, just because you are compliant with consumer law does not mean you will satisfy your broader regulatory obligations. Consequently, each set of rules needs to be considered and applied to your practice separately.

Good compliance with consumer law is likely to enhance your professional reputation and reduce potential disputes with clients. Non-compliance, on the other hand, could have a range of potential consequences, including but not limited to:

  • regulatory action by the CLSB2See the disciplinary outcomes page of the CLSB website. or by any other regulator of your firm, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA);3See, for example, the SRA’s investigation and enforcement guidance.
  • consumer law enforcement action (for example by Trading Standards or the CMA)4See, for example, the CMA’s consumer enforcement guidance. against your firm;
  • enforcement action by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), for example against misleading advertisements that contravene its Advertising Codes;5See the ASA’s Advertising Codes.
  • dissatisfied clients, consumer complaints and cases before the Legal Ombudsman;
  • adverse findings by the Legal Ombudsman;
  • court proceedings by individuals – consumers may be able to sue for breach of contract or seek redress in relation to certain breaches of consumer law.