Today, Which? announces that it has commenced the formal process to judicially review Peterborough Trading Standards’ handling of the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue.
Almost one year after the fire safety issue affecting millions of consumers was announced in November 2015, an investigation by the London Fire Brigade recently concluded that a Whirlpool tumble dryer was to blame for a tower block fire in Shepherd’s Bush. Following Peterborough Trading Standards’ failure to review the situation in light of this report, the consumer champion is stepping up its action on the issue.
Following earlier attempts to get Peterborough Trading Standards (PTS) to do the right thing, we now have no choice but to pursue formal legal action to ensure consumers are protected. The judicial review will ask the High Court to assess whether Peterborough Trading Standards’ handling of the case since the London Fire Brigade’s report has been lawful.
Which? believes that Peterborough Trading Standards has failed consumers by not properly carrying out its role as an enforcer of product safety laws. Which? expects PTS to conduct a fresh, independent assessment of the risks posed to consumers by the millions of faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers that are still in people’s homes and not shy away from enforcement action if it is needed.
Which? believes that the handling of this case exemplifies the problems with the current product safety system and the ability of local Trading Standards branches to stand up to big business as effective enforcers. The current system is failing consumers and must be reconsidered by Government.
Papers have been filed against Peterborough City Council, the Local Authority that PTS forms part of, in the High Court to start this process. If the High Court grants Which? permission to proceed with its judicial review, a court hearing is expected to begin in 2017.
Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home & Legal Services, Which? said:
“We believe that the way Whirlpool has handled the tumble dryer safety issue is absolutely appalling and to add insult to injury Peterborough Trading Standards has failed to do its duty to protect consumers.
“We have decided to step in and take legal action because we want Peterborough Trading Standards to properly protect Whirlpool customers and carry out its role as an enforcer of product safety laws.”
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Notes to editor
- Whirlpool’s UK head office is in Peterborough, so Peterborough Trading Standards has been dealing with the matter.
- Judicial review is a legal process by which a court is asked to assess the lawfulness of a decision of a public body.
- An application for judicial review can be made by a person or organisation with an interest in the case at hand. As the UK’s largest consumer body, representing all UK consumers, Which? is well-placed to bring an application for judicial review to ensure that consumers are properly protected.
- The brands affected by the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue include certain models of Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan tumble dryers.
- Which? has published a list of 127 of the affected tumble dryers on http://www.which.co.uk/
whirlpool. For advice on what to do if you are in possession of a faulty dryer, visit http://www.which.co.uk/ whirlpool
- Whirlpool has provided usage guidelines to those who have an affected machine that is awaiting modification, which they say are based on a rigorous risk assessment. The guidelines require that consumers do not leave their dryers unattended during operation and should check and clean the filter after every cycle and ensure proper dryer venting, as directed in the original operating manual.
- PTS has indicated to Which? that it will review the situation, but importantly it has refused to confirm that it will consider whether enforcement action should now be taken in its capacity as an enforcement authority. It has also refused to provide any details of the review, including when the review will take place, who will conduct it and on the basis of what information. This has left Which? with little choice but to ask the court to intervene.