Licensed street trading and pedlars

Barry Hough

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There are many who will lament the passing of the ancient office of Lord Chancellor. It will shortly fall victim to the scythe of modernisation, which bears its victims, be they high or low, into the ever deepening shades of history. Keats' "hungry generation" usurps its predecessors, and a new order supplants the old. The highest state office has succumbed, which bodes ominously for some of the more vulnerable and constitutionally inferior. Amongst these are the pedlars. Some might express surprise that their occupation has not already become outmoded and reformed. Yet, somewhat at the margins of the popular awareness, these traders continue to ply their trade in the face of almost implacable hostility from town centre managers and local authorities. They have survived because, according to statute, the status of pedlar normally places the trader outside the scope of the onerous and costly licensing schemes operated by local authorities. Firstly, in contrast to street traders, properly so-called, pedlars can trade in almost any location,' because it is the essence of their business that they move from place to place. Street traders, who trade from a particular pitch, are strictly regulated as to when and where they can trade; for example, they are usually only individually licensed in respect of a particular pitch; and, by designating certain streets as "prohibited" streets, local authorities' can control where street trading takes place. If permitted to trade, a street trader's licence or consent will often contain conditions as to the hours of trading and type of goods sold. These measures are intended in part to prevent unfair competition with rival shop-keepers. A consent may not be issued in respect of goods that are already available to the public in a nearby shop. Moreover, street traders are required to pay a substantial fee for their annual trading licences/consents. In contrast, pedlars remain beyond local authority control.' They trade with few restrictions both as to their goods' and trading hours, and they can even trade lawfully in streets in which street trading is prohibited by the local authority.' Above all, pedlars are not required to pay substantial fees for their pedlar's certificate.' The present article examines the current legal regime for the ,Control of the activities of pedlars. It not only considers arguments for the abolition of the status of pedlar but also evaluates the proposed reforms as well as suggesting possible alternatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-32
Number of pages28
JournalMountbatten Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


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