Barrister sees fines over false claims reduced for juice bar and its owner

Wed, 19 Dec 2018

Counsel at No5 Barristers’ Chambers has represented a juice bar and its owner at appeal securing a reduction in their fines imposed due to bogus health claims, which had totalled more than £8,000.

Pure and Raw juice bar, in Leamington Spa, and its director Ravinder Aujla had both pleaded guilty earlier this year to 12 charges of breaching regulations under the Nutrition and Health Claims regulations.

Aujla and her business successfully appealed against the amount of the fines at Warwick Crown Court, after her barrister Ekwall Tiwana, of No5 Barristers’ Chambers, said the company was ‘in a perilous position’.

The fines were cut to a total of £3,000 and Aujla’s to £1,000 – on top of which she will still have to pay the original costs.

Among the claims made at the juice bar in Regent Street, and on its website, were that some of its foods could treat cancer, protect against heart disease, and lower blood pressure.

Magistrates originally fined the juice bar £500 for each offence, a total of £6,000 plus a £50 surcharge. Aujla, aged 51, also of Regent Street, Leamington, was originally fined £200 for each offence, a total of £2,400 – but was also ordered to pay the £2,022.57 costs of the case and a £30 surcharge.

It was observed that Warwickshire Trading Standards’ officers had first tried to encourage Aujla to alter the claims at the juice bar, where it was claimed ‘Our food is your medicine’. It had no effect, nor did a warning that, if the claims were not altered, a prosecution would follow.

Mr Tiwana handed in the latest accounts, which revealed that the business, which employs five part-time people, was in a ‘perilous position’ and may have to close if the fines remained high.

Mr Tiwana also informed the court that Aujla had had an arranged marriage to a man who was a ‘very dominant and controlling person’. He said that her husband had lent her money to set up the juice bar, but had then begun to ‘put his foot in the business’, including taking over marketing and making the health claims.

He said that although Aujla felt overpowered by her husband, because it was her business, she was responsible and although she had wanted to liaise with Trading Standards, her husband had corresponded with them, leaving her side-lined.

In reducing the fines, the judge said it had been taken into account the ‘double jeopardy’ of Aujla and the company being ‘one and the same’. He also stated that Aujla’s husband had been a ‘malign influence’ on her running of the company.
 

To read more about the case, visit: https://www.leamingtoncourier.co.uk/news/leamington-juice-bar-that-made-bogus-health-claims-has-had-its-fine-reduced-1-8740982

Ekwall Tiwana is a member of the crime and criminal fraud and proceeds of crime groups at No5 Barristers’ Chambers. To see his profile, visit: https://www.no5.com/barristers/barrister-details/191-ekwall-singh-tiwana/

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