Since I qualified in 2007 I have had an interest in claims arising out of beauty treatments, most notably hairdressing. I have seen first- hand the devastating effects of negligent hairdressing treatments, ranging from chemical burns to the scalp and face to loss of hair through misuse of products. The hairdressing industry is currently unregulated – a very worrying thought when you consider the chemicals used by hairdressers who potentially could be untrained and unqualified.
In the past APIL has called for regulation of the industry, as has the Hairdressing Council which was established through the 1964 Hairdressers Regulation Act with the intention of giving status to hairdressers and therefore assurance to consumers. Registration with the Council remains voluntary because the Act was never fully enforced.
The Hairdressing Council estimates that only around 10 per cent of hairdressers have registered. As the industry is unregulated, and no qualifications are needed to practice as a hairdresser, there may be many that are holding themselves out as hairdressers without having any qualifications. These would not be eligible to register with the Hairdressing Council. The Hairdressing Council does have the power to deal with complaints against hairdressers who are registered, which offers a little more assurance to those consumers who find their local state registered hairdresser online- but is this really enough?
There have been attempts to introduce a Bill in the UK to seek regulation and this culminated in the Hairdressers Registration (Amendment) Bill being introduced into the House of Commons as a private members’ bill. This was, however, defeated in a vote by 67 to 63 in November 2011. The purpose of the Bill was to promote better regulation of the hairdressing industry to include a code of conduct and compulsory public liability insurance. The Bill was introduced by David Morris MP who, following defeat, said: “It is very unusual for a Ten Minute Rule Bill to go to division. The House of Commons was clearly divided. I hope that now I have drawn attention to the regulation of the hairdressing industry this important issue will continue to be debated."
The matter has not since been debated in the House until this week, when Welsh MP Nia Griffith’s call in an adjournment debate for a compulsory state register was rejected by the UK Government. Ministers said a register would cost the industry £75m.
However, in November 2013 the matter was debated in the Senedd in Wales. It was noted during the debate that the Welsh Government’s powers in the area are limited and that Vince Cable had been written to by Eluned Parrott AM to press the case and to ask him to look again at the regulation of the industry. which is estimated to be worth between £5 to £6.5 billion a year to the UK economy to be lost.
The Hairdressing Council continues its campaign and held a reception at the Senedd in February 2014 to continue to raise the awareness. I would urge you all, lawyers and consumers alike, as well as professional stylists, to give their support to the Council in lobbying the UK Government to introduce regulation in the area and limit the traumatic injuries suffered by consumers.