HC Deb 01 March 1973 vol 851 cc1680-1
5. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure that magistrates are conversant with the effects of Section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1972, in actions brought under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

Mr. Carlisle

An explanatory booklet —"Criminal Justice Act 1972: A Guide for the Courts"—which has been distributed individually to magistrates and others describes the new compensation powers and includes a reference to the power to order compensation in respect of offences under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

Mrs. Oppenheim

Does not my hon. and learned Friend agree that it is highly desirable that consumers who are involved in successful prosecutions under the Trade Descriptions Act should get the full benefit of the provisions of Section 1 of the Criminal Justice Act for compensation and that magistrates should automatically make the necessary court orders in such cases? Is he satisfied that this is being done in the majority of appropriate cases?

Mr. Carlisle

It is highly desirable that the wider strength of the powers of the courts under the Criminal Justice Act to award compensation should be as widely publicised as possible. My hon. Friend has mentioned particular cases, but it is right to point out that there may be some matters, particularly under the Trade Descriptions Act, which can raise difficult issues of liability which may not be appropriate for a magistrates' court. Regarding the use that has so far been made of the Act, it is still too early to say, but I have the impression that considerably wider use is being made of the power to award compensation.

Mr. Pavitt

In the information which he is issuing will the hon. and learned Gentleman give special consideration to the problem that arises with written misrepresentations on the specific subject of hearing aids sold to elderly people? In this area it seems that magistrates are not aware of the very fine lines being drawn from time to time, which make liability difficulty to pin.

Mr. Carlisle

That may be a slightly different question. But in so far as manufacturers of hearing aids commit offences under the Trade Descriptions Act they can be convicted, in which case the magistrates can also order compensation in respect of the loss of the value of the hearing aid that has been sold.

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