New consumer protection regulations in Britain classifies astrologers along with fortune tellers and double-glazing salesman under a new consumer protection act. Astrologers, faith healers and spiritual advisers will now have to post a sign that says “for entertainment purposes only.” Consumer protection is a wonderful thing, and I am all for prohibiting fraudulent treatment of consumers under any circumstances. But astrological consultations are NOT for entertainment purposes only!
Andy Millmore, a partner at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis in London, said: “What is significant is the sweeping nature of the regulations. They will effectively criminalise actions that might in the past have escaped legal censure, even if they may perhaps have been covered by industry voluntary codes.
“Personalised services may also come under scrutiny. A tarot pack reader, for instance, cannot just pick one of several templates – it would have to be a proper reading designed for that person.”
Claims to secure good fortune, contact the dead or heal through the laying-on of hands are all services that will also have to carry disclaimers, other lawyers say. “You could argue that this is no different from promises given by the Church of Eternal Life, which people pay for, in the sense that they feel obliged to give to the collection,” one said. “It’s no more proven.”
Mr Millmore said that the changes created a lower test for prosecution. “Before, a prosecution had to show that there was a false or misleading trade description. Now the test is, is it an unfair commercial trade practice? So we are likely to see more prosecutions,” he said.
Certainly no one wants to see little old ladies taken advantage of. But are spiritual advisers any less vetted than church parsons or priests? […]