The register, which was set up by the Office of Fair Trading in 2007, is currently only used by trading standards officers. It contains details of criminal convictions and fines imposed as a result of breaches of the law. It records cases of fraud, misselling and breaches of credit acts.
BALI chairman Richard Gardiner said: "We think that anything that reduces the number of bad traders is a good idea. However, we have to educate people to use any information that is available. Too many consumers fail to get references or to see whether contractors are properly qualified or whether they are members of trade organisations."
He warned that reputable firms were occasionally taken to court by clients because of genuine disagreements over such issues as the quality of work. He said clients were more likely to sue reputable firms because the cowboys often disappeared when things went wrong.