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Small business support: Law and business

Home Grown Heroes

Recovery – in sight at last?

There may be some good economic news at last for smaller businesses. Trading conditions are still challenging, but recent survey evidence may point to recovery hopes, and an economic mood that is gradually brightening.

The laws and what they mean for you

The Consumer Protection Act 1987

This Act:

  • Prohibits the supply of unsafe products
  • Makes producers liable for any deaths or injuries that arise as a result of using defective products
  • Establishes safety standards for particular products
  • Makes it illegal to advertise misleading prices

A person can sue under the Act for compensation for any death, personal injury and damage to private property worth £275 or more that results from using a defective product. Fines and/or prison sentences can also be imposed on companies that fail to comply with the Act.

General Product Safety Regulations 2005

This legislation requires you to:

  • Make sure that any products you market are safe
  • Notify the authorities if you recall an unsafe product
  • Keep a register of any consumer complaints
  • Keep and provide documentation that will allow authorities to identify where any unsafe products come from

It also gives authorities the power to recall dangerous products.

Fines and prison sentences can be imposed on companies that market unsafe products or fail to act when required to by Trading Standards.

Sale of Goods Act 1979

Under this Act, you must ensure any goods you sell are as described and of satisfactory quality. If they're not, consumers can ask for their money back, request a repair or replacement, or claim compensation.

Employers’ liability insurance

You must take this out if your business has employees. See how we can help you with Business insurance

The Data Protection Act 1998

You must comply with this Act if you store personal information about customers or employees. It requires you to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), train your staff appropriately, and tell people that you’re storing and using information about them. You can find out more from the  Information Commissioner's Office

Environmental regulations

You have a number of legal responsibilities in regards to the environment, including the proper disposal of waste. To find out more about your environmental responsibilities, contact:

  • Environment Agency Helpline (England and Wales): 0870 850 6506
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Scotland): 01786 457700
  • Environment and Heritage Service (Northern Ireland): 028 9054 6614

Useful links

For more information about how you can meet your legal responsibilities, see the following links:

Business insurance

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

Information Commissioner's Office