Skip to the Content

Transit

The Astrologer's Newsletter - September/October 2008

Astrology, that EU Directive and Consumer Law - An Update and a Response

By Roy Gillett - AA President

(We should make it clear that what follows is an account of some further thoughts and discussion between colleagues on the EU Directive and what it may mean for astrologers. None of us have legal qualifications and our exploration of the subject is not comprehensive in its scope. What follows is some information to help and encourage you to find out the facts for yourself and so to act in accordance with the any new requirements in the law.

Thanks to those who have sent further thoughts and information in response to July’s article.

Geoffrey Dean has emailed referring us to www.rudolfhsmit.nl This site details research that was unable to find a statistically significant connection between the researchers’ selection of astrological concepts and expected outcomes. It also contains extensive arguments against the Gauquelin research and various claims of how astrology works. Because of this, he advises astrologers to be very careful about the claims they make for their services [We have asked Geoffrey’s permission to make his email discussions with Robert Currey regarding this available on a web link and, at the time of going to press, are awaiting his reply]

In addition to research outlines, the Rudolf Smit pages show the considerable disagreement that exists between academics about the suitability, reliability and conclusions of many of the tests. You may wish to refer to the sources criticised, such as Suitbert Ertel’s The Tenacious Mars Effect. More recently, Dr Pat Harris’ PhD Thesis on The Application of Astrology to Health Psychology: astrological and psychological factors and fertility treatment outcome (2005) and in-depth work outlined by Dr Jan Ruis and Graham Douglas in the recent Correlation Vol. 25(2) seem likely to advance the debate.

When considering the supply of goods and services, the key requirement of the Consumer Protection Regulations seems to be that suppliers are clear and honest about what they are offering, and especially protect vulnerable people. The Association of Professional Astrologers International (APAI) has received some sensible advice from Balens, the company that arranges their members’ insurance. A summary of guidance received by their Treasurer from his local branch of the Office of Fair Trading can be read at www. professionalastrologer.co.uk. Readers could find it very helpful to go to the website and study this information carefully.

As a result of further thought and feedback, we have reworded our outline of information to clients as below. However, what each astrologer offers will be different, so only you can decide how to make your services clear to clients. Advice on this can be sought from your local Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Information for clients

Please read this important note on the scope of services offered:

"An astrological analysis is based on a translation of the symbolic meaning of astronomical cycles into ordinary language.  This knowledge has been acquired through observation and application over thousands of years and supported by my experience practicing astrology over X years.  To date, this analysis is not supported by experiments using the conventional research methods of hard science. Some scientists and most astrologers consider such test methods to be inappropriate for the subject matter and flawed for a variety of reasons.  Astrology is a symbolic language and offers a balance of probabilities rather than specific certainties.  As such, astrology cannot foretell your future.  You should also seek qualified professional advice for medical, financial, legal and other specialist questions."

 


Yvonne Williams writes:

I have just been looking through the Roy Gillet piece in Transit July/August on the new consumer protection regulations.

The law is the 'Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008' and it does not really change any laws relating to astrologers, tarot readers etc. However, what it does do that appears to have got the media running down blind alleys is repeal the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951, so there is no longer any legal protection for spiritualist mediums.

Astrologers etc offer a service to the public and like all service providers have to obey consumer protection law, trade descriptions and misleading adverts type of stuff, and there has been plenty of opportunities for astrologers to be charged under those law for years but do not know that they have.

What has been done though is that what used to be ICSTIS often closed down astrology and tarot phone lines, usually for premium rate reasons - not offences those, just breaking ICSTIS rules.

- Yvonne Williams

 

Editor’s note: Ms Williams has forwarded to me a transcript of a VAT Tribunal report, concerning the 2003 case of an Indian clairvoyant/palmist who was appealing against paying VAT. This is interesting because it apparently sets out a legal definition of the term "consultant". The relevant excerpt is:

"My colleague and I have considered the facts and the law and we have decided that Consultant must fall within the term “liberal profession”. The European Court of Justice has given a preliminary ruling in Christiane Adam as to the meaning of 'liberal profession' and has stated that a 'liberal profession' must have a marked intellectual character, require a high level qualification, and be subject to clear and strict professional regulation.

We have no doubt as to the eminence of the Appellant as far as his clients are concerned. We also have no doubt that the Appellant is consulted but we are satisfied he is not a Consultant. He is not an individual of marked intellectual character; although we have no doubt that he possesses the powers for which he has been trained over the last 30 years. He has no high level qualification whatsoever. There is no regulatory body. In fact under cross-examination he confirmed that he was unaware of any others in his area of work.

For a Consultant to have any value at all he must be recognised within his peer group as an individual with professional knowledge and skill, who knows more about the matter in hand than they do.

The Appellant has produced no evidence neither to the Respondents nor this tribunal as to how he carries out his spiritual and astrological calculations and his phrenological observations.

He gave no evidence as to the content or character of the prayers he offers for his clients. We do not doubt the genuineness of his activities but we cannot accept that he is a Consultant.”

Yvonne is happy to forward a copy of the report - please contact her via the Transit address.