Trading law basics
Finding out about the legal requirements of trading can help you stay within the law.
You may need information on trading law if you are:
- Starting a business
- Changing the services, you provide or the goods you sell
- Changing the countries you trade with
- Involved in a sector that has specific trading rules and regulations
- Are having problems with late or non-payment
- Are involved in a dispute relating to the sale or purchase of goods or services
- Want to legally protect an idea or name.
Trading issues and the law
Below you will find links to free information about some of the most common trading issues:
Rights and restrictions
Trading law – what you can and can’t do
- The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 – A guide to UK Legislation for legal duties to your customers.
- Business companion: trading standards law explained – A range of guides from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute for businesses on trading law.
- The Bribery Act 2010: Guidance – Information from the Government on how to avoid bribery.
- The Competition Act 1998 and Cartels Guidance – A guide from the Government and the Competition and Markets Authority on how to avoid falling foul of competition law.
Goods or services not as described
- Goods are not as described – A guide from Citizens Advice about the customer’s rights on fake goods and those that are not accurately described.
- What you can do about faulty goods – A guide from Citizens Advice on how customers can request refunds, replacements, and repairs.
- Alternative dispute resolution – Information from Business Companion on how to resolve a dispute out of court.
- Making a court claim for money – A guide from the Government on how to claim money through the courts.
- Regulation – A guide from the Government to business regulations and licences.
Trademarks and copyright
- The Intellectual Property Office – the government body responsible for intellectual property rights including patents, designs, trademarks, and copyright.
- Intellectual property for business – A guide from the Government including information on events, guidance, tools, and studies.
- Trademark registration – A guide from the Government on how to register and pay for a trademark.
- Patent application – A guide from the Government on how to apply and pay for a UK patent.
- Defend your intellectual property – A guide from the Government on what to do if someone infringes your intellectual property rights.
Contracts for sale or rental of goods or services
- Consumer contracts – a guide from Business Companion on trading standards law.
Payment or trading disputes
Late or non-payment
- The Prompt Payment Code– voluntary code for standards of prompt payment to suppliers.[KR1]
- Late commercial payments: charging interest and debt recovery– A guide from the Government on charging interest on late payments.
- What to do if you receive a County Court Judgement (CCJ)– A guide from the Government on responding to a CCJ and arranging affordable payments.
- Enforcing a judgement– A guide from the Government on asking the court to take steps to collect payments.
- Late payment of commercial debts– A guide from the Government on your right to claim interest if another business is late paying for goods or services.
- Make and serve a statutory demand, or challenge one– A guide from the Government on making or challenging a statutory demand for payment of a debt.
- County court judgments for the debt– A guide from the Government on responding to a CCJ and arranging affordable payments.
- Reporting a problem to Trading Standards– a guide from Citizens Advice on how to report a business to Trading Standards.
- Resolving disputes through the small claims court– A guide from the Government on how to make a small claim online or by post.
- Import and export licences– Information from the Government on how to legally import goods into the UK.
- Duty relief for imports and exports– A guide from the Government to paying, or being exempt from, export duty.
- Finding commodity codes– A guide from the Government to help you pay the right tax and duty and follow regulations.
- Passport to export service– A guide from the Government to UK Trade & Investment to help you check if your company is ready for international trade.
- TheDepartment for International Tradeprovides a service with guidance and support for exporters.
- Exporting goods abroad: A guide for small businesses– a starter guide from smallbusiness.co.uk.
As a small business owner, you may need advice on trading. Many types of people can give this advice. These include:
- Chartered Legal Executives
- Business advisors
- Chartered Accountants
- Sector-specific advisers such as representative bodies
- A qualified financial advisor –Citizens Advice provides information about how to find one here
- Intellectual Property lawyersregulated by IPReg – they have a list of all their regulated trade mark and patent attorneys
- Competition and Markets Authority on complying with competition law.
For a list of questions to ask before you get legal advice,visit our provider checklist.