Section 213: Enforcers
503.This section deals with those bodies who are to have enforcement powers under this Part.
504.Three categories of enforcement bodies are defined: ‘general enforcers’, ‘designated enforcers’ and ‘Community enforcers’.
505.‘General enforcers’ are the OFT, every weights and measures authority in Great Britain (trading standards departments) and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland (subsection (1)).
506.The Secretary of State is given an order-making power to confer enforcement powers upon other UK public bodies and private consumers organisations that have as one of their purposes the protection of the collective interests of consumers (subsection (2)). These enforcers are termed ‘designated enforcers’. An order under this section may designate a body for the purposes of domestic and/or Community infringements, and for different types of infringement within each of those categories (subsections (6) and (7)).
507.The Secretary of State may only confer enforcement powers on a public body if it is independent (subsection (3)) and on a private consumer organisation if it fulfils such criteria as the Secretary of State specifies by order (subsection (4)). The designation of a body by virtue of subsection (3) will be conclusive evidence that the body is a public body for the purposes of this Part. This will be relevant, for example, in relation to whether the enforcer is to have the statutory power to obtain documents and information under section 225 (subsection (8)).
508.Regulation 4 of the SNORs contains the existing power to designate private consumer organisations (in the SNORs called ‘other UK qualified entities’) and sets out criteria according to which they may be designated. It is anticipated the Secretary of State will set similar criteria for designating private consumer organisations for the purposes of this Part. It is open to her to decide to set different criteria in respect of Community and domestic infringements, but at present we do not anticipate this will be the case. The power to designate includes power to revoke the designation from any body which ceases to meet the criteria.
509.It is intended that the first order made under this section will be to designate the public enforcement authorities (in the SNORs called ‘public UK qualified entities’), other than those who are general enforcers under this Part, at present listed in Schedule 3 to the SNORs for Community infringements. These are the statutory regulators for the gas, electricity, water, telecommunications and rail industries, the Information Commissioner and the Civil Aviation Authority. It may also designate any private consumer organisations which have been designated under the SNORs as ‘other UK qualified entities’ for Community infringements by the time this Part of the Act comes into force.
510.Community enforcers are entities from other EEA States that are listed in the Official Journal of the European Communities under Article 4.3 of the Injunctions Directive (subsection (5)). It is a requirement of the Injunctions Directive that the courts or administrative authorities of an EEA State must accept inclusion in this list as proof of the legal capacity of the entities to apply for injunctions in all EEA States to stop Community infringements.
511.In the same way, UK enforcers which are designated for the purposes of Community infringements can apply for injunctions in other Member States to protect UK consumers. At the request of a designated enforcer who has been designated for the purposes of one or more Community infringements, the Secretary of State must notify the European Commission that it should be added to the list of bodies published in the Official Journal of the European Communities as being qualified to bring proceedings in all Member States.
512.The Department considers that the Injunctions Directive only gives enforcement bodies the power to apply for injunctions in other EEA States in respect of those Community infringements for which it is designated in its home State. The notification to the Commission must include the types of Community infringement in respect of which the body is designated, in addition to the name and a general description of the purpose of the body, which are required under Article 4(2) of the Injunctions Directive (subsection (10)). It is up to the Commission how it deals with the publication, but the current Official Journal entry (OJ No. C30, 2002, Item 2) for Denmark includes a reference to the individual directives for which each of the Consumer Ombudsman and Danish Medicines Control Agency are qualified to bring actions.
513.The Secretary of State is required to notify the Commission if a designated enforcer ceases to be designated for the purpose of Community infringements or if its designation in relation to such infringements is varied. The Secretary of State must also inform the Commission of any change in the name or purpose of a designated enforcer (subsection (11)).