The Government has promised a code of practice on compliance with the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and associated UK regulations.

Peter Deft, senior civil servant in charge of implementing the regulations, said the code would be voluntary rather than legally binding.

Travel industry lawyer Stephen Mason asked for detailed guidance.

He said: “The current code of practice on misleading prices is useful.

“We know, for example, that at least 10% of a programme must be available at the lowest price for a tour operator to say ‘prices start from’,” said Mason.

“Under the new regulations, would making 5% of the programme available at that price be misleading? Given the vagueness of the regulations, I hope we get practical guidance.”

Deft admitted that business leaders were unhappy with some of the legal requirements.

“Business did not want the regulations to include criminal offences or any reference to misleading omissions,” he said.

But Mason added: “I’m reassured the approach will be conciliatory and that criminal prosecutions will be a last resort for the most serious breaches.

“As long as the authorities enforce the regulations, so we know where we stand, it could mean a new era of moral trading for reputable traders,” Mason said.