Latest news...

All the latest news.


consumer warning
Beat the con-men! Stay one step ahead and keep an eye on our consumer warnings...

What does all the jargon mean?

BackHere you can find some of the meanings of words you may come across on our website or when considering entering into contract with a service provider.  If you cannot find what you are looking for please contact us for further information.


A directive is an European Union legislative act. Which means to say it is a law passed by the European Union Parliament. It is each countries responsibility to then implement the law.

European Union Countries

The European Union consists of 28 member countries. It is a political and economical union of the Countries. You can see a full list of the EU countries on the Europa Website.

Service Provider

A service provider is somebody from whom you can purchase a service. For example a construction service can be supplied by a builder, or restaurants can provide a catering service. For advice on specific services please see the service page.


Ombudsmen investigate and resolve complaints about organisations and government bodies. They also encourage good practice in the way complaints are handled. Ombudsmen do not generally offer advice however they are there to assist resolving disputes between consumers and traders. Ombudsmen make recommendations to both parties however this is not legally binding and cannot compel either party to act.

Enforcement Bodies

Enforcement bodies are government bodies with authority to enforce laws. For example Trading Standards in the UK is an enforcement body for consumers, they can enforce government legislation by compelling traders to act and can prosecute. Details of enforcement bodies in each of the EU countries can be found through the countries page.

Trade Associations

Trade Associations are often private businesses found in different industries. They are not government funded, however offer membership to businesses. There are often procedures that members have to adhere to when trading and can offer forms of mediation to consumers should a problem arise.  It is usually not a legal requirement for a trader to be part of a Trade Association.  If a trader is not a member of a Trade Association, this does not mean that they are any less reliable.  There are many excellent traders that are not part of Trade Associations. 

Professional Body

A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organisation, or professional society) is a non-profit organisation seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest.
Membership of a professional body does not necessarily mean that a person possesses qualifications in the subject area, nor that they are legally able to practice their profession. Many of these bodies also act as learned societies for the academic disciplines underlying their professions

Regulatory Reform

Regulatory reform is work undertaken to improve regulatory quality. This is work by government bodies. It can include revision of a single regulation, or the rebuilding of an entire regulatory regime.


A contract is a binding agreement between parties, which can be enforced by law. Contracts do not always necessarily have to include written and signed documents, this means consumers often enter contracts daily, only realising it when a problem occurs.

For example ordering a service such as photo processing from a website located in Germany is considered to be a contract despite there being no written or signed documents. It may only be realised when the service paid for is not provided as agreed.



Funded by BIS

The European Consumer Centre for Services is hosted by the Trading Standards Institute and funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.