Jams and lemonade stands – what’s the law on selling stuff outside your home?

(June 2019) Just when we all thought it was going to be a ‘BBQ summer’, the heavens opened. However, we still have a few months of summer left to go, and as we move into the school summer holidays, your enterprising young Dragon’s Den prospect may want to set up their own stall selling thirsty passers-by a cool glass of homemade lemonade. It’s a great way to supplement their pocket money, teaches kids about commerce, and wraps up a whole host of life-skills into one, charmingly sweet little enterprise.

But is it legal? And is one of the life skills your eight-year-old is about to learn about the red-tape tangle of local council by-laws? Put simply, is it okay to sell homemade produce like jams, cupcakes and lemonade from a stall in your front garden?

Trader’s Licences

We’re a nation of costermongers – the UK was built on the shoulders of small businesses meeting the demand of passing customers. However, every council has different regulations that need to be checked before you open up your lemonade stall. Many local councils demand that anyone, regardless of how cute they look in pigtails, has a Street Trader’s Licence if you’re operating on public land.

However, if you’re operating on private land, then as long as you have the landowner’s permission, you do not necessarily need an STL. So as long as your lemonade stall doesn’t overhang onto the footpath, you should be fine to open for business.

However, you may still need to register your food business with the local council, and if you’re selling food and drink, you’ll also need a food hygiene certificate.

Food hygiene certificates

These are much easier to get than you think, so don’t panic at this stage. You can go online and get a food hygiene certificate in around 90 minutes. It’ll cost you a few pounds and is valid for a year. Even if your eight-year-old is a little young to apply for one, a parent or guardian can do it for them. A level 1 certificate is quite adequate for a simple lemonade stall, although if you want to expand into other food and drinks then a level 2 certificate is the bare minimum you’ll require.

If you’re serious about starting a small food and drink business, then it’s also wise to do an online Food Allergy Awareness training course as well. Again, these can be done online for a small fee. If you decide to take your lemonade stall on the road and set up at local events then the organisers will probably insist that, in addition to a Hawker’s licence or STL and public liability insurance, you must have a valid food hygiene certificate and Food Allergy Training certificate too.

What is a Hawkers licence?

The 1697 Pedlar’s Act made it legal for costermongers to ‘hawk’ their wares on the street. It’s now been replaced by a Pedlar’s Certificate, which can be applied for through the government’s website. It allows you to sell goods in the street, but you cannot have a fixed stall or pitch, so you’ll be carrying your wares around with you. A Pedlar’s Certificate can be used anywhere in the country, but remember if you want to set up a fixed pitch, you’ll need a street trader’s licence.

Insurance

If there’s one other piece of paperwork that’s absolutely vital, it’s public liability insurance. If you’re selling consumables, even if it’s just lemonade, and a customer becomes sick after ingesting your food or drink then they could sue. The financial consequences could be devastating, and all for the sake of a few lemons. It may seem like overkill, but consumers do have rights under the Consumers Act 2017, including the option to sue for financial redress if they become ill after eating or drinking food supplied by a vendor.

This deluge of legislation seems like a very quick way to kill your child’s entrepreneurial spirit. But if they’re determined to make a go out of a little business venture, then it’s well worth talking to a legal expert in consumer law to make sure you get all your ducks (or lemonade glasses) in a row before you open for business.

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