Page 33 - MarketTimesApril2020
P. 33

 Overview of a licence
By SHARON NUTTALL, Chafes Hague Lambert Solicitors
  OF ALL the queries I receive through the market traders advice line there is one question I find gets asked more than any other — can the market management tell me I can no longer trade and give me notice to leave the market?
My first question in response is always “Do you trade under the terms of a lease or under a licence?”
The reason for establishing this is that the two documents are very different in terms of the rights they grant to traders.
Many traders are not entirely sure on what basis they trade and this makes it difficult for me to advise on whether they can be forced to leave the market, sometimes with very short notice.
Whilst it is likely that a document was given to the trader when they began trading at the market, many traders have been trading for so long that they have mislaid it.
Traders also often assume that the length of time they have traded in one place means that they cannot be forced to leave or that they are entitled to a long notice period before they must leave.
The majority of traders will trade under the terms of a licence issued to them by whoever runs the market, be it the local council or a private operator. This can be a casual or a permanent licence.
A licence is simply permission for the trader to do something on the owner’s land. In terms of market traders, this will be the right to sell their goods from a certain pitch/stall or designated area. This is a personal right and does not entitle the trader to gain any rights over the owner’s land.
Only the licence holder is allowed to trade (except for permitted employees of the trader) and only for the period specified in the licence. Unfortunately, a licence offers no real security for the trader and unlike a lease it does not offer exclusive possession. The trader cannot therefore deny the owner, or anyone else, the right to enter the owner’s land. The licence is usually issued for a relatively short period and either party can give notice to end the licence quite easily.
Many traders are surprised when
I set out these facts, particularly those who been trading at the same market for a number of years who have perhaps been given notice to leave the market relatively soon.
However, the fact that the arrangement is not as rigid as a lease can also work in the trader’s favour. If, for example, their business is not doing particularly well or they need to stop trading for personal or other reasons they can give notice and simply walk away from the market with no obligations.
If they were tied to the terms of an onerous lease then this would not be possible without incurring significant financial penalties. For traders, whose income is not always guaranteed, the flexibility of a licence can be a reassuring factor.
A licence will set out the obligations of both the trader and operator and the licence fee and any other fees payable. It should also clearly state what products/goods the trader is authorised to sell. It will confirm the relevant notice period either party must provide to the other to end the licence.
The licence may also make reference to a handbook for that particular market which sets out the general guidelines which have to be adhered to. Traders should be aware that any breach of the licence terms or associated regulations can result in their licence being revoked.
Some traders do trade under the terms of a lease rather than a licence. Those traders can exercise the rights given to them under the terms of the lease and can prevent the landowner and other parties from entering the land.
A lease is a much more comprehensive document with substantial terms set out in full. These include, in many instances a right to a renewal of the lease upon the expiry of the term set out in the lease. Leases tend to be granted to traders who trade from a more permanent unit or premises and the lease will usually be granted for a relatively long period of time.
If you are in doubt as to the basis on which you are trading then you should check with the market operator. The operator should be able to provide a copy of the
relevant document to you. In most cases you are likely to have a licence.
I hope this brief overview is helpful in establishing what rights traders have to continue trading at a market. Any queries individual traders have can be directed to the NMTF or to myself at Chafes Hague Lambert Solicitors (please refer to ad on page 12 for details).
Sharon Nuttall,
Chafes Hague Lambert Solicitors
 The law firm’s new office in Wilmslow, Cheshire

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