Consumer Law

Counterfeiting & brand protection

Drystone Chambers is one of the leading in sets in London in matters concerning Intellectual Property Crime. Members of chambers act for Trading Standards Services, rights holders, companies, partnerships and individuals across the full calendar of criminal offences involving intellectual property rights.

Few sets of chambers can boast the same credentials in this area of law. We remain instructed in the most high profile counterfeiting investigation of recent times, Operation Augusta (widely reported as ‘the world’s largest ebay fraud’), which we have been advising in for the last seven years, and have appeared in a number of other significant Trading Standards operations, including Batchelor (clothing and luxury goods), Kangaroo (footwear and clothing), Olympic (washing powder), Mango (watches and jewellery) and Bluechocmuffin (luxury goods and DVDs).

Regularly we receive instructions in all types of counterfeit goods and piracy cases involving e-commerce, market traders and newsagents. Throughout 2012 members of chambers conducted a number of the cases in London involving the influx of counterfeit Jacob’s Creek and Blossom Hill wine and Glen’s vodka.

Drystone Chambers offers a ‘start to finish’ advisory and representation service, from the outset of an investigation to enforcement of court orders. We understand the demands of large-scale investigations on both Trading Standards Services and those who are subject to them and give sensible and cost-conscious advice.

Given our specialist areas of practice we are able to offer individual members of chambers or a team of barristers to advise collaboratively on any aspect of an investigation, including:

  • Advising re: warrants of entry and production orders
  • Obtaining restraint orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act
  • Obtaining evidence from foreign jurisdictions through mutual legal assistance
  • Advising as to prospective extradition of foreign and British citizens abroad
  • Conducting the entire spectrum of proceedings at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court, and all courts of appellate jurisdiction
  • Advising as to confiscation and asset forfeiture
  • Advising as to the appointment of enforcement receivers
  • Appearing at enforcement hearings

Uniquely, Chambers is also able to offer expertise in all matters relating to computer forensics and information technology. In this regard, we are adept at assisting in finding evidence (often deleted) on imaged hard drives and at the presentation in court of electronically stored material.

We also act in civil disputes and in this regard we invite attention to the Dispute Resolution page of our website.

A selection of the cases we have appeared in:

Operation Augusta - global conspiracy to sell counterfeit goods, primarily golf equipment, through the auction website ebay. One of the most significant investigations ever undertaken by a Trading Standards Department. Case involved first extradition proceedings conducted by a local authority.

Tan Tan Ltd - company and both directors alleged to have breached patents and infringed copyright belonging to Nintendo by offering for sale flash cards that allowed the downloading of software that facilitated use of the DS console for non- Nintendo games and media.

Hindson and Gu - prosecution of husband and wife for orchestrating a long-running counterfeiting enterprise, during the course of which goods were imported into the UK from China, having been secreted in sofas and bathroom equipment. Retail value of goods worth many millions of pounds.

General Healthcare Ltd. (No.2) - prosecution of company and director for counterfeiting of rival pharmaceutical company’s products. Complex case involving historical licence agreements, the relationship of civil and criminal law and the jurisdictional reach of the Trade Marks Act.

Operation Bluechocmuffin - sophisticated conspiracy involving the manipulation of ebay accounts for which contrived trading histories had been created using multiple identities, enabling distribution of counterfeit luxury items with a retail value running into millions of pounds.

Simhani and Cheung - common-law husband and wife sold £500,000 worth of counterfeit children’s shoes on ebay over the course of 18 months. Case complicated by issues of commercial sensitivity relating to supply chain of legitimate shoes in China.

Brayford - the ‘Persil Plot’ involving 8 defendants who conspired to flood the market with fake washing powder. Most recent restatement of sentencing guidance by the Court of Appeal

Food Safety

Members of chambers appear on behalf of Environmental Health Departments across London and beyond and act on behalf of those being investigated or prosecuted in respect of food safety and hygiene matters.

We have appeared in cases across the spectrum of this complex and demanding area of law, from unlicensed slaughter houses and serious outbreaks of salmonella poisoning to standard breaches of Community Provisions and mislabelling.

We advise those within the food industry on the requirements of EC law, regulations and import restrictions, the sufficiency of due diligence systems and on the liability of company officers within a corporate structure.

In a civil context, we are experienced in seeking statutory orders and both responding to appeals against such orders or appealing them on behalf of the food business operator.

We are also experienced in advising in respect of the health and safety matters that can arise in connection with food business inspections at ports, warehouses and retail premises.

We are dedicated to delivering the best possible service for all our clients in any case in which we are instructed.

A selection of cases in which we have appeared:

  • Skerry - unauthorised slaughterhouse and significant breaches of hygiene provisions. Described by FSA as one of the most serious cases of its kind
  • Shahi Nan Kebab- one of the most serious outbreaks of salmonella poisoning in London
  • Crestdane Ltd. (No.1) - multiple and serious breaches of food safety regulations at London’s largest Chinese restaurant
  • General Healthcare Ltd. - obstruction of officers for failing to reveal details of retailers to whom toxic royal jelly had been sold
  • Expresso Limited - out of date produce, absence of allergen labelling
  • Crestdane Ltd. (No.2) - breach of Hygiene Prohibition Order imposed upon conviction
  • Kings Kebabish - wholesale breaches of community provisions

Trading Standards and Consumer Protection

We have proven expertise across the full range of Trading Standards matters, from large ‘rogue trader’ cases to underage sales. Examples of the matters we have appeared in include illegal money lending, car-clocking, letting agency fraud, unlawful claims concerning the treatment of cancer, tobacco mislabelling and unlawful car-clamping.

Members of the Regulatory Team are fully conversant with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and have appeared for both prosecution and defence in some significant cases in this area. Notably we acted for Trading Standards in the prosecution of SAS Fire and Security Systems Ltd., whose conduct represents the most pervasive and wide-spread breach of the Regulations to date, the company having made 41 million cold calls to residents across the United Kingdom.

We prosecute on behalf of a number of Trading Standards Services throughout the UK and appear on behalf of individuals, small businesses and large corporations. We have appeared for or against JD Wetherspoon, JD Sport, TK Maxx, Primark, United Airlines, Argos, Poundland, Sainsburys and Focus (DIY) to name but a few.

We have appeared in a number of cases concerning breaches of safety regulations, including electrical products, toys, imitation food and general products, such cases often involving complex technical and scientific evidence.

We are instructed to advise pre-charge in larger cases and in this regard we are able to offer expert advice as to the obtaining or lawfulness of warrants of entry and have considerable experience in obtaining Restraint Orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, or seeking their discharge or variation when appearing for the defence.

Post-conviction, we have obtained a number of confiscation orders on behalf of Trading Standards Services in those matters involving financial gain and frequently we are instructed for the defence to respond to such applications.

We provide advice to businesses on the sufficiency of due diligence systems and as to the liability of company officers within a corporate structure. Whilst the majority of our work in this area relates to criminal litigation, we also advise as to the civil aspects of Trading Standards, including orders under the Enterprise Act and statutory appeals.

Chambers is an associate member of the Trading Standards Institute and members of Chambers have lectured at successive TSi conferences over a number of years.

A selection of the cases we have appeared in:

SAS Fire and Security Systems Ltd. - prosecution of notorious company and four of its directors for fraud and breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulation. Company made approximately 41 million cold calls, pitched to 41,000 home owners and sold 10,000 alarm systems to mainly elderly and vulnerable consumers over two year period. Multi-authority prosecution on behalf of a number of local authorities from within and outside the London area.

Primark - breaches of the General Product Safety Regulations relating to the sale and possession for sale of unsafe Christmas decorations

Kwik-Fit - allegations concerning the supply of a car in an unroadworthy condition following a serious collision on the M40 motorway

PMS International Ltd - alleged breaches of the Toy Safety Regulations relating to excess levels of heavy metals in the paint of racing car toys imported from China

Aslam - former aide-de-camp to the President of Pakistan turned car dealer prosecuted for offences under CPUTRs and Fraud Act relating to the ‘clocking’ of cars he sold

Preston Intl College - series of CPUTRs offences for advertising courses to international and domestic students with examination board accreditations or endorsements the college did not enjoy, and for subjects where they did not have suitably qualified lecturers.

Should you require a more comprehensive list of cases in which we have appeared (with references), please contact our Regulatory Team Clerks.