The Office of Fair Trading (The OFT)

What is the Office of Fair Trading?

The Fair Trading Act of 1973 paved the way for the establishment of the Office of Fair Trading. The Office of Fair Trading is a non-ministerial department of the United Kingdom government. The office acts as the economic regulator of the country and is responsible for enforcing consumer competition and protection. The Office of Fair Trading is the main institution for ensuring fair deals in business and trading. With its rules and guidance, this government department ensures that unfair business practices are avoided and diminished. As such, the Office of Fair Trading is also concerned in the prevention of scams, cartels and rogue trading.

How does the Office of Fair Trading perform its job?

Technically, the Office of Fair Trading has three major roles:

Competition Enforcement

The Office of Fair Trading is responsible for enforcing competition laws provided by the country and the European Community. Such laws are detailed in The EC Treaty and the 1998 Competition Act. With these laws at hand, the Office of Fair Trading has enough powers to stop competition damaging businesses such as cartels. It also has the power to break up anti-competitive agreements from different businesses. As part of the European Commission, the Office of Fair Trading also works alongside national authorities to regulate competition. The Office of Fair Trading also prevents abuse of competition between businesses in order to protect the consumers. The office is also tasked to ensure that businesses are provided with strong competitive arenas. It also tries to ensure that businesses are up to date with legislation by conducting a widespread informational program. As provided by the Enterprise Act of 2002, the Office of Fair Trading can also take part in the investigation of business mergers.

Consumer Regulation Enforcement

To enable it to protect consumers, the OFT has received legal powers. As such, the Office of Fair Trading can take necessary actions to combat unfair traders. Consumer and consumer groups who have requested  or recommended the investigation of particular business or business practices are entertained and given direction to the proper procedure of filing complaints. The Office of Fair Trading also acts as a kind of fair-trading police, thus ensuring that all laws about consumer protection and regulation are observed and practice by businesses.  The department conducts campaigns to encourage good moral business standards and codes of practice.

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For more information on:

  • Market and Policies Initiatives
  • What are the limitations of the Office of Fair Trading?
  • Where can people go if they have problems against a business?