EU Regulations on Price Display
The European Communities (Requirement to Indicate Product Prices) Regulations give effect to an EU Directive on consumer protection in the indication of the prices of products offered to consumers. The Regulations apply to most products offered for sale by traders to consumers.
Subject to the exceptions specified, where traders indicate that a product is or may be for sale to consumers, they are required to indicate the selling price and the unit price of that product in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations. The indication of the selling price and of the unit price must be clearly visible.
A person who contravenes the Regulations is guilty of an offence. A person guilty of an offence under the Regulations is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €3,000.
Product Price Display
Where a trader indicates that a product is or may be for sale to a consumer, he or she must indicate the selling price of that product in accordance with the regulations. These provisions do not apply in respect of products sold in bulk, or an advertisement for a product. “Products sold in bulk” means products which are not pre-packaged and are measured in the presence of the consumer;
The “selling price” means the final price in euro, including value-added tax and all other taxes, for a unit of a product, or a given quantity of a product. The “unit price” means the final price in euro, including value-added tax and all other taxes, for one kilogram, one litre, one metre, one square metre or one cubic metre of a product or, in respect of a product mentioned in the schedule to the regulations, the final price in euro, including value-added tax and all other taxes for the number of units.
The EU Regulations do not apply to products supplied in the course of the provision of a service, sales by auction or sales of works of art and antiques. There is a separate provision in respect of the supply of services.
A person who contravenes the Regulations is guilty of an offence.
Obligation to Display Unit Price
Where a trader indicates that a product is or may be for sale to a consumer, he or she shall indicate the selling price of that product.
Where a trader indicates that a product is or may be for sale to a consumer, he or she shall indicate the unit price of the product. This requirement does not apply in relation to a product –
- which is pre-packaged with a content equal to or less than 50 grams or 50 millilitres;
- the selling price of which is not related to the quantity of that product being offered for sale;
- the unit price of which is identical to its selling price;
- the selling price of which has been reduced from the usual price at which it is sold on account of its damaged condition or the danger of its deterioration;
- which comprises an assortment of different items sold in a single package;
- which is sold from an automatic dispenser or a vending machine from which different products are offered for sale;
- which is sold other than in bulk in a premises in which the trader does not make use of equipment for printing shelf edge labels or equipment for point of sale scanning, or
- by an itinerant trader.
The requirement to indicate the unit price applies in relation to an advertisement for a product except where the selling price of the product is not indicated in the advertisement, or the advertisement is solely aural, broadcast on television, or shown in a cinema.
An “advertisement” means an advertisement promoting the sale of a product but does not include an advertisement promoting the sale of a product by means of a distance contract, catalogue, price list container or label. A “premises” includes any building, shop, store, dwelling, kiosk temporary construction, or an area in any of the foregoing in which trading is carried on pursuant to a franchise or concession.
Price Display Issues
A trader must ensure that the indication of the selling price and where appropriate, the unit price of a product offered by him or her to consumers or to prospective consumers is —
- easily identifiable as referring to that product,
- clearly visible and legible to prospective customers, and
- in proximity to the product or,
- in the case of a product for sale by distance contract, to the description of the product.
Where a trader offers products for sale at less than the selling price or the unit price previously applicable, the indication of the reduced prices may be affected by reference to a reduction of the prices by a fraction or percentage of the previous prices indicated by a general notice or any other visible means if the particulars of the reduction are unambiguous and easily identifiable as referring to those products; and are clearly visible and legible to prospective consumers.
Where a pre-packaged solid food product is offered for sale in a liquid medium –
- it is sufficient to indicate in accordance with the Regulations the unit price of the net drained weight; and
- if the unit price of the net weight is also indicated in accordance with the Regulations, the trader concerned shall ensure that it shall be clear to which weight each unit price refers.
Former Prices Act
The Prices Acts 1958-1972 granted powers to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to fix the maximum prices of commodities and services, following a report by the (former) Fair Trade Commission or the Prices Advisory Committee. Where there was a state of emergency affecting the supply of particular goods, the Government had wider powers to make immediate orders on such terms as it saw fit, to set maximum prices and charges for goods and services during the relevant period.
There were special provisions in relation to maximum wholesale and retail prices for bread, sugar and maximum retail prices for butter and milk.
The legislation also provided for the display of prices. The legislation was amended in 1972 on the eve of very significant inflation which lasted almost a decade. The Prices Advisory Committee was dissolved. The legislation was extended to a wider category of commodities and services. It was applied to interest under hire purchase and credit sale agreements.
The procedure for imposing maximum prices or restricting price increases was enhanced and streamlined. Further provision was made for prices display. The price was to be a single amount inclusive of taxes whether stated orally or in writing.
The legislation provides for price stabilisation or powers which were used during the periods of inflation that followed.
Consumer Protection Act
The Consumer Protection Act revoked the Prices Act but maintained certain statutory instruments in relation to price display which were in force. The statutory instruments which were preserved are mentioned below.
The Consumer Protection Act effectively requires the display of prices in many instances. Where there is an invitation to treat certain information must be made available including the price and other charges. The Consumer Rights Directive 2011 and implementing regulation require comprehensive pre-contract information to be given prior to most on-premises sales as well as off-premises (distance) sales to consumers.
The Consumer Protection Act revoked the Prices Act but maintained certain statutory instruments under it in force. The following statutory instruments were preserved.
The Prices and Charges (Tax-inclusive Statements) Order provides that where in connection with the sale by retail of a commodity or the rendering of a service, the retail price is stated orally by the seller, supplier or his employee or agent or is contained in a wrapper, packet, label, ticket etc., or is stated in a catalogue or advertisement or notice, that price must be inclusive of any VAT charged.
The Charges (Hairdressing) Display Order requires the price list for hairdressing services to be displayed. The notice must set out the charges for every service rendered by the hairdresser in his/ her capacity as such. It must be situated on the ground floor of the relevant building and in such place so as to be visible outside and/or in such position as to be immediately inside the entrance of the premises.
Price Display Orders; Catering I
The Retail Prices (Food in Catering Establishments), Display Order, provides that a comprehensive price list must be displayed in every establishment, whether a hotel, pub, restaurant, café etc. which offers food for sale intended for consumption on the premises. Where the establishment consists of several food outlets, the notice must be displayed outside or inside the entrance.
Where some other business is carried on, the notice is to be displayed immediately outside or inside the entrance to the catering area. In the case of a hotel or public house, a notice may be displayed at the entrance to the premises or the entrance to the catering area.
The order applies to food and beverages sold for consumption on the premises. It does not include biscuits and foods that are pre-packaged elsewhere than at the premises where they are on sale. It applies to sandwiches, bread, rolls, salads, meats or carbonated water whether coloured or not or whether flavoured, fruit juices or similar beverages. It does not apply to food sold in conjunction with the provision of sleeping accommodation.
A reference to a price charged for food is a reference to the retail price stated as a single amount and inclusive of any charge for tax. Equivalent provisions apply to services.
Every person who carries on the business of selling foods by retail shall display a notice at the premises where the foods are sold, specifying each such food and specifying in relation to each food, the price or prices charged at the premises.
Price Display Orders; Catering II
If the person charges a minimum price for any such food not included or fully included in the price, or makes a separate charge such as a service or cover charge for entry into the premises or entertainment, the notice shall specify the amount of any such price or charge whether stated as a percentage of the amount or otherwise and the matters to which it relates. If the service charge is fully included in the price, the notice shall specify the fact of such inclusion.
Where a person to whom the above obligations apply has on sale a group of foods intended to be sold together at a single inclusive price, the notices displayed must specify those foods and specify in relation to them, the single inclusive price charged for them. Where the food is not on sale separately, it is not necessary for the notices to specify the individual prices separately.
Where a person to whom the above obligations applies, has on sale a range of soups, ice creams, cakes, pastries, sandwiches, sandwich rolls or similar food made mainly of flour, carbonated or aerated waters, whether coloured or not, he must specify in relation to such range, the highest price and lowest price charged for them. If those prices are specified, it is not necessary for the notice to specify each food in each range or their prices separately.
Price Display Orders; Catering III
Where food is intended to be sold together for a single inclusive price for which different prices are charged at different times and on different days, the notices displayed shall specify the different prices and the circumstances in which they are chargeable.
The notices shall be displayed, in the case where the whole of the premises is used for the purpose of selling food by retail to the public, whether or not part of the premises is also used for the purposes, either immediately outside or immediately inside each entrance open to the public.
Where part of the premises is used as aforesaid, whether or not that part or another part is used for other purposes, the notice must be displayed either immediately outside or inside each entrance to the part used for such business. In either case, they must be in a position so as to be clearly visible, easily accessible and in such form or manner as shall be capable of being easily read by the persons using the entrance where they are displayed.
The Retail Price (Diesel and Petrol) Display Order requires that person selling diesel and petrol products must display the price per litre charged to consumers for these commodities. The orders distinguish between 95 unleaded petrol and diesel.
A person carrying on the business of selling diesel, petrol or 95 unleaded, shall exhibit a notice on the premises where the business is carried on specifying the retail price per litre for each commodity. It should be legible and visible from the side of the road nearest to the premises. A number appearing to the left of a decimal price shall not be less than 20 cm in height.
Price Display; Licensed Premises I
The Retail Price (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order is preserved by the Consumer Protection Act. It provides that price list must be displayed immediately outside or inside each entrance to a licensed premises where the same price is charged for all parts, e.g. a bar.
It must be displayed immediately inside each entrance to each part where different prices are charged (such as a bar and lounge). It must be displayed immediately outside or inside each entrance to the part of the premises selling liquor by retail whether part only is used for selling liquor by retail and another part is used for other purposes such as a hotel.
The items for which prices are to be displayed are
- stout draught and bottle;
- ale draught and bottle;
- lager draught and bottle;
- cider draught and bottle;
- carbonated beverage, carbonated beverages with a cola base;
- bottled water,
Price Display; Licensed Premises II
A person carrying on the business of selling intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises shall display a notice specifying each kind of beverage, alcoholic or non-alcoholic on sale in the premises and the quantities, measures and units by reference to which the price charged s calculated.
Opposite each such kind of beverage, the price charged at the premises for the quantities, measures and units specified for each such kind of beverages must be set out. The price is to be with reference to particular quantity. In the case of beer, it is per pint or 568 ml for at least one kind of the relative draught, ale, stout or lager or cider.
In the case of bottles, the price is to be in respect of 330 ml bottles. The quantities for whiskey, vodka and gin are 35.5 ml. In the case of carbonated beverages, it is 200 ml. In the case of mixers 113 ml. In the case of wines or at least one kind of wine in a bottle of capacity 187 ml.
Every person who carries on the business of selling beverage by retail in a premises for consumption off the premises shall provide a notice setting out prices and sums relating to deposits which may be applicable to the return of any containers.