Reform of Street Trading Laws 2014

December 5, 2014

Following recent consultation the current legislation on Street Trading is due to change with implementation of the new legislation expected to take place in 2015. The consultation was published in 2012 with the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, with the Minister for Social Development in Northern Ireland publishing his response in November 2014. The change in legislation has been prompted by the requirement to bring the law in Northern Ireland into line with the European Services Directive 2006/123/EC. The aim of the Directive is to make it easier to trade and do business within the European Union.

The Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey confirmed that changes will be made to:

• the application procedures for street trading licences, which are granted by local councils; and

• the type of street trading allowed.

The current legislation in force is the Street Trading (NI) Act 2001 and Pedlars Acts 1871 and 1881. Street traders are defined as a person who trades on a street from a stall or from place to place from a vehicle. A pedlar is defined as being a person who trades only on foot. The current legislation provides for door to door trading and the proposed change will remove this restriction. This will enable traders to trade beyond house to house selling although there will be designated areas where trading will not be permitted. The Council for the relevant district will determine these areas.

The Minister stated that, “The changes to current street trading law must be made to comply with the Directive but I consider that Councils must continue to have some control over where pedlars are allowed to trade in their area”.

The Pedlars Acts currently govern street trading and will be retained as responses to the consultation indicated reluctance to repeal the Act as it was indicated that there still needed to be a method to certify pedlars. There are several key decisions which have been made as a result of the consultation:-

• Retention of the Pedlars Acts, although they will be amended to remove the current residency requirement and will introduce a new good character check;
• Amendment of the certification process for traders to make it compliant with the Services Directive;
• Removal of the residency requirement;
• Removal of the current house to house restriction currently placed on a pedlar;
• Provide a power in the Street Trading Act to allow councils to designate areas as unsuitable for pedlars, to carry out trading. This power can be relied on in relation to pedlars pushing or pulling a receptacle and thereby causing undue nuisance or inconvenience to persons or vehicles using such an area.

The changes proposed to the Street Trading (NI) Act 2001 will have the following effects:-

• Councils will have the ability to grant indefinite licences, currently licences can only be granted for a period of up to three years;
• Applications for street trading licences can be made electronically
• An applicant no longer need be an individual, now companies and partneships can apply for a street trading licence
• The grounds of refusal on the basis that there are sufficient traders providing similar articles, things or services in no longer available to the Council
• The limitations surrounding the granting of a temporary licence shall be removed

Some of the respondents indicated a reticence to the amendments given that there is an increasing push towards making town centres and their surrounding areas as welcoming and attractive as possible. The Minister has indicated that he believes the changes will protect legitimate traders and will ensure that the public is protected from illegal street trading.

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Planning and Environmental Department at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.

Louise Coll, Solicitor, Planning and Environmental Department at Cleaver Fulton Rankin Solicitors