Birmingham barrister Richard Atkins QC has received a prestigious award from the Trading Standards Institute’s College of Fellows.
The award comes a result of a successful prosecution of Tesco by Birmingham City Council’s trading department over the pricing of strawberries.
The supermarket giant was fined £300,000 over its ‘half price’ strawberries in August 2013, with Mr Atkins from St Philips Chambers representing the city council at Birmingham Crown Court.
Tesco was prosecuted under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008.
The case concerns a Tesco store on the Coventry Road in Sheldon and was widened to Tesco stores nationally after it was flagged up to trading standards by a local shopper.
During various dates in summer 2011, Tesco sold 400g punnets of British strawberries marked as ‘half price’ – £1.99 with the previous prices of £2.99 and £3.99 crossed out.
Under the pricing practices guide, the length of the new lower price sale should not be more than which the old higher price was available.
Tesco’s £1.99 offer ran for 14 weeks. Its original higher price strawberries - £3.99 - were sold for a much shorter length of time.
Following on from the prosecution of Tesco Mr Atkins was asked to write an article for the Trading Standards Institute’s Trading Standards Today magazine.
His article entitled “When strawberries leave a bitter taste” published in October 2013 was judged by the College of Fellows to be the best article published for 2013/2014.
In presenting his award at the institute’s awards dinner on July 1, master of ceremonies Ron Gainsford OBE drew attention to the fact this was the first time the award had been made to someone who was not a member of the institute.
In making their decision, the judges said the article “set out in a clear and very readable format the legal procedures necessary to successfully apply the principle” that prosecutions can be pursued on a national basis.
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