Driving teacher fined for false advertising

A Banbridge driving instructor has been fined £150 for falsely advertising his driving qualifications.

In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Paul Neeson, who trades as Auto-Academy, was found guilty of offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).

He had described himself as being a Grade 5 Approved Driving Instructor when he was in fact a Grade 4 Approved Driving Instructor.

He was fined £150 when he appeared at Armagh Magistrates Court.

The investigation arose following a complaint made by the Driver and Vehicle Agency Northern Ireland (DVANI).

Mr Neeson had been awarded a Grade 4 rating by DVANI in April 2013, but continued to describe himself as a Grade 5 on the Auto-Academy website. Grade 5 is higher than that of Grade 4.

The court heard evidence of how despite advice from the Trading Standards Service to amend his website, Mr Neeson continued to make the misleading claim.

Jim Frazer of the Trading Standards Service said: “The grading system applied by the DVANI allows consumers to make an informed decision when deciding which driving instructor to employ.

“In this case the information provided by Mr Neeson on his website was inaccurate and may potentially have influenced a consumer into taking a transactional decision that they would otherwise not have taken.”