In reality there are not a lot of differences between the
consumer laws in Northern Ireland and England, though Scottish law does differ
somewhat, where certain parts of the law is applicable in Scotland, but not the
other way around, and the opposite holds true also. The courts in both parts of
the continent, are named differently and the procedures differ slightly.
Law is made up out of two parts, we call "common
law" and "statue law", where common law is derived from rulings
made by the courts in the past, and statue law stands for legislation created
by the government, which is a combination of laws created by parliament and
European law. For consumers the latter is the most important, mainly because
consumer protection laws are an extension of rights that come forth from common
Laws that have been constructed centuries ago, with the
purpose of regulating trade, lay at the foundation for the consumer protection
laws as we know them today. Most current consumer laws, were introduced during
the seventies, and most of them are still applied today in its original state,
as they were introduced.
The UK, being a member of the European Union, is also bound
by the consumer laws as constructed in Europe, so the consumer laws in the
United Kingdom, are a combination of the European directives and domestic
legislation, in terms of statue law.
In general consumer law issue are processed by the Fair
Trade Office, which purpose is to monitor, investigate and depending on the
outcome of the investigation, to impose sanctions, or take the matter to the
The Fair Trade Office serves as the countries watch dog for
consumer protection, while the Citizen's Advice Bureau has local branches,
where consumers can get information regarding consumer law issues.
Consumer law consists out of several independent acts, and
even more regulations, but they are more use to legal parties, then they are to
consumers. On average, consumers, need to apply only one law basically, which
is the law of common sense.
Before taking a consumer law case to the courts, it is in
the consumer's best interest to ask him or herself, whether or not the trader
in question was really in the wrong, or not. An honest answer to this question
usually will be along the same lines of a ruling from a judge.
When in doubt, it may be smart to ask other people their
opinion on the matter, to get an idea of the general consensus on the matter,
which in turn gives more insight into the question of right and wrong in
consumer law cases.
The reason this is a good strategy, is that courts apply
something called a "reasonableness test", which comes down to pretty
much the same thing. On rare occasions there may be specific legislation on a
subject, causing the outcome of a consumer law case to differ, but as stated
these occasions are rare.
It is for these exceptions, legal counselling may
be required, before a decision on whether or not to take a consumer law case to
court is made.