Trade Descriptions Act 1968

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1968 c. 29


Trade Descriptions Act 1968

1968 CHAPTER 29

An Act to replace the Merchandise Marks Acts 1887 to 1953 by fresh provisions prohibiting misdescriptions of goods, services, accommodation and facilities provided in the course of trade; to prohibit false or misleading indications as to the price of goods; to confer power to require information or instructions relating to goods to be marked on or to accompany the goods or to be included in advertisements; to prohibit the unauthorised use of devices or emblems signifying royal awards; to enable the Parliament of Northern Ireland to make laws relating to merchandise marks; and for purposes connected with those matters.

[30th May 1968]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Prohibition of false trade descriptions

Prohibition of false trade descriptions

S-1 Prohibition of false trade descriptions.

1 Prohibition of false trade descriptions.

(1) Any person who, in the course of a trade or business,—

(a ) applies a false trade description to any goods; or

(b ) supplies or offers to supply any goods to which a false trade description is applied;

shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be guilty of an offence.

(2) Sections 2 to 6 of this Act shall have effect for the purposes of this section and for the interpretation of expressions used in this section, wherever they occur in this Act.

S-2 Trade description.

2 Trade description.

(1) A trade description is an indication, direct or indirect, and by whatever means given, of any of the following matters with respect to any goods or parts of goods, that is to say—

(a ) quantity, size or gauge;

(b ) method of manufacture, production, processing or re-conditioning;

(c ) composition;

(d ) fitness for purpose, strength, performance, behaviour or accuracy;

(e ) any physical characteristics not included in the preceding paragraphs;

(f ) testing by any person and results thereof;

(g ) approval by any person or conformity with a type approved by any person;

(h ) place or date of manufacture, production, processing or reconditioning;

(i ) person by whom manufactured, produced, processed or reconditioned;

(j ) other history, including previous ownership or use.

(2) The matters specified in subsection (1) of this section shall be taken—

(a ) in relation to any animal, to include sex, breed or cross, fertility and soundness;

(b ) in relation to any semen, to include the identity and characteristics of the animal from which it was taken and measure of dilution.

(3) In this section ‘quantity’ includes length, width, height, area, volume, capacity, weight and number.

(4) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding provisions of this section, the following shall be deemed not to be trade descriptions, that is to say, any description or mark applied in pursuance of—

(a ) the Seeds Act 1920 ;

(b ) section 2 of the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act 1928 (as amended by the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Amendment Act 1931 ) or any corresponding enactment of the Parliament of Northern Ireland;

(c ) the Plant Varieties and Seeds Act 1964 ;

(d ) the Agriculture and Horticulture Act 1964 ;

(e ) the Seeds Act (Northern Ireland) 1965 ;

(f ) the Horticulture Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 ;

any description applied in pursuance of the Fertilisers and Feeding Stuffs Act 1926 to an article included in the first column of Schedule 1 to that Act, and any mark prescribed by a system of classification compiled under section 5 of the Agriculture Act 1967 .

(5) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding provisions of this section, where provision is made under the Food and Drugs Act 1955 , the Food and Drugs (Scotland) Act 1956 or the Food and Drugs Act (Northern Ireland) 1958 prohibiting the application of a description except to goods in the case of which the requirements specified in that provision are complied with, that description, when applied to such goods, shall be deemed not to be a trade description.

S-3 False trade description.

3 False trade description.

(1) A false trade description is a trade description which is false to a material degree.

(2) A trade description which, though not false, is misleading, that is to say, likely to be taken for such an indication of any of the matters specified in section 2 of this Act as would be false to a material degree, shall be deemed to be a false trade description.

(3) Anything which, though not a trade description, is likely to be taken for an indication of any of those matters and, as such an indication, would be false to a material degree, shall be deemed to be a false trade description.

(4) A false indication, or anything likely to be taken as an indication which would be false, that any goods comply with a standard specified or recognised by any person or implied by the approval of any person shall be deemed to be a false trade description, if there is no such person or no standard so specified, recognised or implied.

S-4 Applying a trade description to goods.

4 Applying a trade description to goods.

(1) A person applies a trade description to goods if he—

(a ) affixes or annexes it to or in any manner marks it on or incorporates it with—

(i) the goods themselves, or

(ii) anything in, on or with which the goods are supplied; or

(b ) places the goods in, on or with anything which the trade description has been affixed or annexed to, marked on or incorporated with, or places any such thing with the goods; or

(c ) uses the trade description in any manner likely to be taken as referring to the goods.

(2) An oral statement may amount to the use of a trade description.

(3) Where goods are supplied in pursuance of a request in which a trade description is used and the circumstances are such as to make it reasonable to infer that the goods are supplied as goods corresponding to that trade description, the person supplying the goods shall be deemed to have applied that trade description to the goods.

S-5 Trade descriptions used in advertisements.

5 Trade descriptions used in advertisements.

(1) The following provisions of this section shall have effect where in an advertisement a trade description is used in relation to any class of goods.

(2) The trade description shall be taken as referring to all goods of the class, whether or not in existence at the time the advertisement is published—

(a ) for the purpose of determining whether an offence has been committed under paragraph (a ) of section 1(1) of this Act; and

(b ) where goods of the class are supplied or offered to be supplied by a person publishing or displaying the advertisement, also for the purpose of determining whether an offence has been committed under paragraph (b ) of the said section 1(1).

(3) In determining for the purposes of this section whether any goods are of a class to which a trade description used in an advertisement relates regard shall be had not only to the form and content of the advertisement but also to the time, place, manner and frequency of its publication and all other matters making it likely or unlikely that a person to whom the goods are supplied would think of the goods as belonging to the class in relation to which the trade description is used in the advertisement.

S-6 Offer to supply.

6 Offer to supply.

6. A person exposing goods for supply or having goods in his possession for supply shall be deemed to offer to supply them.

Power to define terms and to require display, etc. of information

Power to define terms and to require display, etc. of information

S-7 Definition orders.

7 Definition orders.

7. Where it appears to the Board of Trade—

a ) that it would be in the interest of persons to whom any goods are supplied; or
b ) that it would be in the interest of persons by whom any goods are exported and would not be contrary to the interest of persons to whom such goods are supplied in the United Kingdom

that any expressions used in relation to the goods should be understood as having definite meanings, the Board may by order assign such meanings either—

(i) to those expressions when used in the course of a trade or business as, or as part of, a trade description applied to the goods; or

(ii) to those expressions when so used in such circumstances as may be specified in the order;

and where such a meaning is so assigned to an expression it shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act to have that meaning when...

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