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30 J. Consumer Pol'y 1 (2007)

handle is hein.journals/jrncpy30 and id is 1 raw text is: J Consum Policy (2007) 30:1-20
DOI 10.1007/s10603-006-9026-x
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Crime, punishment, and consumer protection
Peter Cartwright
Received: 10 May 2006/ Accepted: 10 December 2006/Published online: 1 February 2007
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007
Abstract Criminal law is perhaps society's strongest technique of formal censure.
By labelling an activity as criminal we attach to it a special stigma. Despite this,
the United Kingdom (UK) has a long history of criminalising conduct that lacks the
seriousness we might expect that label to involve. One area where criminal sanctions
have been commonly used in the UK is consumer protection. This article argues that
it is time to reconsider the role of criminal law in consumer protection and considers
how alternative regimes may better-protect the consumer from business wrongdoing.
Keywords Criminal law    Consumer protection Regulation Punishment
The criminal law is perhaps society's most visible instrument of condemnation-its
strongest form of official censure and punishment (Ashworth, 2003). Criminal
sanctions also, however, play a significant role in dealing with conduct that may not
justify such a censorious response. The question of what role, if any, criminal
sanctions should play in the protection of the consumer is highly topical in the UK
for a number of reasons (Cartwright, 2001). First, conflicting messages are emerging
about the extent to which criminal law is an appropriate tool for dealing with cor-
porate wrongdoing. On the one hand, some commentators have seen evidence of a
potential drift towards punitive approaches to regulation, with increasing
emphasis being placed upon criminal sanctions. Baldwin, for example, sees a new
zest for punitive approaches to regulation, which is evidenced by government
policy, legislative developments, and the approach of regulators (Baldwin, 2004). On
the other hand, there appears to be enthusiasm among various quarters for alter-
natives to criminal law. The Hampton Review, which was set up to consider ways of
P. Cartwright (E)
School of Law, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
e-mail: Peter.Cartwright@nottingham.ac.uk
4P Springer

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