Friday, 23 May 2008

The Times: Fortune-tellers targetted in new Consumer Protection Regulations

(Ed: My question: "Is a 'healing service' where a collection is taken included in this?" My prediction: "The EU is taking over your life.)

The fortune-tellers, at least, must have seen it coming. The biggest overhaul of consumer laws for 40 years takes effect on Monday, tightening controls on everything from door-to-door salesmen to children’s advertising.

Fortune-tellers and astrologists will be bracketed with double-glazing salesman under the new Consumer Protection Regulations. The changes, which implement an EU directive on unfair commercial practices, require businesses for the first time to act fairly towards consumers and will outlaw diresputable trading activities.

Fortune-tellers will have to tell customers that what they offer is “for entertainment only” and not “experimentally proven”. This means that a fortune-teller who sets up a tent at a funfair will have to put up a disclaimer on a board outside.

Similar disclaimers will need to be posted on the websites of faith healers, spiritualists or mediums where appropriate, as well as on invoices and at the top of any printed terms and conditions.

Andy Millmore, a partner at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis in London, said: “What is significant is the sweeping nature of the regulations. They will effectively criminalise actions that might in the past have escaped legal censure, even if they may perhaps have been covered by industry voluntary codes.

“Personalised services may also come under scrutiny. A tarot pack reader, for instance, cannot just pick one of several templates – it would have to be a proper reading designed for that person.”

Claims to secure good fortune, contact the dead or heal through the laying-on of hands are all services that will also have to carry disclaimers, other lawyers say. “You could argue that this is no different from promises given by the Church of Eternal Life, which people pay for, in the sense that they feel obliged to give to the collection,” one said. “It’s no more proven.” Read more
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