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Access to Government information

The Isle of Man Government has published a Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. This is to make it easier for people to obtain information about the way Departments, Boards and Offices work and how this work affects them.

The work of the office

Our work involves enforcing criminal consumer protection legislation and advising on civil consumer legislation.

Criminal Legislation

The criminal legislation enforced by the Office only covers persons in business and is intended to ensure that consumers are protected and that a level playing field exists for competing Island businesses.

Our legislation covers a wide variety of matters such as:

  • weights and measures
  • inaccurate descriptions of goods or services
  • safety of consumer goods
  • timeshare complaints
  • ensuring safety at petrol stations

And we register:

  • moneylenders
  • fireworks stores
  • video shops

We make considerable efforts to ensure that businesses understand their legal obligations but when necessary our qualified Trading Standards Officers can issue a range of formal warnings when breaches of legislation occur, with the final sanction being prosecution.

When reaching decisions on action of such a serious nature, staff take into account the circumstances of the breach, the attitude of the business and the level of risk to the consumer. To give a formal caution is not the decision of one officer alone.

The Trading Standards Officer is required to investigate serious breaches fully and provide a report which justifies the warning for the approval of the Director. Likewise any proposed prosecution must be considered both by the Director and the Government’s Legal Officer, the Attorney General

Civil Legislation 

The Office cannot enforce civil legislation.

Such legislation provides consumers with certain rights when purchasing goods and services and these rights can ultimately only be enforced by the consumer through the Courts.

Civil legislation covers:

  • Unsatisfactory goods and services
  • breaches of contracts for goods and services

The Office does provide advice and information on civil legislation and our staff place an emphasis on encouraging consumers and businesses to behave fairly and reasonably when dealing with problems. 

Staff receive regular training and supervision to ensure that you receive a high quality service. Based upon their knowledge and experience they will tell you honestly if they feel that you do not have a case worth pursuing and sometimes the best advice our staff can give is for the parties involved to take legal advice.

Where to find information

Providing advice to consumers and traders on their rights and responsibilities are major elements of the role of the Office.

We provide information on:

  • our work, policies
  • service standards
  • how much the Office costs to run in various ways

You will find information on our webpages, in the Isle of Man Government Plan, Annual Report and Budget documents, and in leaflets developed to help our customers including a Customer Advice Service Charter which sets out our consumer advice service standards.

Officers are happy to discuss issues with customers individually and will give talks or tours of the Office to groups or societies who wish to know more about the work we do and how we do it.

Request more information

If there is additional information which you wish to know about the Office, about the Office’s policies or about the way we have responded to you we will make every effort to supply it.

Confidential information

The Code does not mean that someone will be able to ask for or see personal information about you. No one can normally have personal information about you unless you have given your written permission.

Some other information cannot be given under the Code. This includes information which could undermine law enforcement or Government decision making. The Code only applies to information available from existing sources within the Office and does not cover any research from external sources.

Copies of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information are avaialble from our office or from the Central Reference Library, 3rd Floor Government Office, Bucks Road, Douglas, IM1 3PW.

Information you may have to pay for

Information which we already provide free will still be free.

If you ask for other information which means that the Office has to do a lot of work to get it for you, you may be asked to pay. Your payment will cover the cost of staff time, photocopying and anything else involved in finding the information for you.

We will write to you and tell you before we collect the information how much it will cost. You can then decide whether you still want us to get it for you.

We will not normally ask you to pay unless collecting the information involves more than half a day’s work for one member of staff.

How long will it take

We aim to answer your request within 20 working days from the date we receive it.

If it is going to take us longer than 20 days to complete your request, we will write to you and tell you when we can give you an answer.

If you are unhappy with the information we give you

If you think that:

  • you did not get the information you asked for
  • you were asked to pay too much

You should contact the Chief Officer and tell him that you want a review of the decision. It will then be looked at by someone who was not involved in making the original decision.

How to request information

Write to:

Chief Officer
Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading
Thie Slieau Whallian
Foxdale Road
St John's

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