Retailers are stuck in the middle. Not only can they face the prospect of disputes with suppliers and distributors, but they also have stringent obligations to their customers, with both civil and criminal law liabilities.

Over the last decade, Europe has produced a wealth of legislation that has increased retailers' accountability for their products and services. This, coupled with increased public awareness about consumer rights, means that retailers need to be more careful than ever to comply with all the relevant rules and regulations.

With many businesses looking to make use of cheaper suppliers and manufacturers abroad, retailers must also be alive to bribery and corruption issues. This is particularly relevant when dealing with countries where there is a large amount of contact with import and export officials. The Bribery Act 2010 will have a potentially significant impact on retailers operating on an international scale.

We offer advice and assistance to help retailers comply with existing legislation, thereby protecting them from claims and prosecutions that could follow on from sourcing and selling products and services.

We have the resources and experience to deal with any claims brought against retailers, such as those regarding defective products and breaches of health and safety legislation, both domestically and internationally.

Our team has a wealth of experience in dealing with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer issues. Contractual and negligence-based disputes make up a large part of our work, and we handle indemnity claims and advise on liability for defective goods.

At the consumer end, we advise both prospectively and retrospectively on UK and European consumer protection legislation, including claims arising out of the Unfair Contract Terms Act, the Consumer Protection Act, the Sales of Goods Act, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, and issues relating to product recall and liability generally.

Notable deals / highlights

  • Advised an international oil and gas corporation on the launch of a new product, focusing particularly on product liability, health and safety, regulatory law and general contract and tort issues.

  • Advised a major UK travel company on health and safety issues affecting the retail arm of the business.

  • Advised an Australian food distributor in a dispute regarding the termination of a distribution agreement by one of its suppliers.

  • Advised a large fashion retailer on its compliance procedures in view of the provisions of the Bribery Act 2010.

  • Advised a large UK wine retailer on issues arising from the supply of wine from South America.

  • Acted for clients in regulatory matters involving the Office of Fair Trading and the Civil Aviation Authority.

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