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Israel: EU External Trade

Volume 492: debated on Tuesday 12 May 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department has taken to ensure that individuals or companies which market or sell within the UK properties in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Golan inform potential purchasers of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's recently issued advice on the risks of such purchases; what steps the Government is taking to publicise that advice; and what steps the Government is taking to enforce the legal responsibilities of those who sell or market the properties. (271618)

[holding answer 30 April 2009]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises UK citizens that there are risks involved in purchasing property in Israeli settlements on land considered to be occupied under international law in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Golan. Prospective purchasers should be aware that future peace deals could have consequences for properties purchased in these settlements. The advice is available on the FCO website.

Legislation specifically regulating the conduct of estate agents in the UK is not considered to apply to overseas property transactions. However, estate agents marketing overseas properties do have legal obligations to prospective purchasers under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The Regulations oblige businesses not to mislead consumers through acts or omissions in their commercial practices. Failure to inform prospective purchasers of the risks involved in purchasing properties in the settlements could potentially amount to a misleading omission under the Regulations where this was likely to cause the average consumer to make a different choice. The Regulations are primarily enforced by local trading standards departments.