Bridal shop legal issues

The following is an outline of some of the areas that may be relevant to you.

What licences does a bridal shop need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to bridal wear retailers.

You should, however, be aware of the following:

  • if you offer credit terms to your customers you will need consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • if you play background music in the showroom you will need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd. There is an annual fee for this which you can pay online on the PPL PRS website
  • businesses which keep records of individuals' personal details may need to register as data users with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
  • if you sell second-hand dresses then you may need to obtain a second-hand dealer's licence or registration from your local authority. However, if dealing in second-hand goods is only incidental to your main business activity then you will not need to register

There is an annual fee for registering with the ICO and for the PPL and PRS licences. The FCA charges an application fee for consumer credit authorisation and then an ongoing annual fee - known as a periodic fee. The fee charged depends on the size of your business and the types of credit activity you engage in. Visit the FCA website for details of current fees.

Clothes hire

There is a large amount of legislation covering the sale and supply of goods and services, consumer contracts and rights. It makes sense to ask a solicitor to draw up a standard contract of hire to use each time you hire out an item of clothing. Using a sound hire contract is vital in order to avoid misunderstandings and resolve any disputes that may arise.

Protecting original wedding gown designs

You should be aware of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. This gives copyright protection to original designs, including 'artistic craftsmanship'. The copying of original designs without permission is prohibited. Designers can do more to protect themselves from counterfeiting by registering their designs with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). A single design item can be registered if required.

If you produce original designs you might consider banning photograph-taking when a potential customer is just at the trying on stage. It makes it harder for them to go away and get a cheap copy made somewhere else.

Online sales

If you plan to sell through your own website you'll need to comply with regulations covering online trading.

You must give customers detailed information about your products, delivery charges and cancellation rights and include certain information about your business on your website and on any business emails that you send. If you trade as a limited company, your website must clearly display the company registration number, place of registration and registered office address. This information should also appear on your order forms and in your emails.

Make sure that your website complies with the requirements of special distance selling rules as well as e-commerce regulations. There's detailed guidance on your legal obligations to consumers, and on the requirements when selling online, on the Trading Standards Business Companion website. There is also helpful information on distance selling available on the Gov.uk website.

Consumer credit

If you offer credit facilities to your customers, you must obtain consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can apply for this on the FCA website. You will have to comply with the terms of your authorisation and with the requirements of consumer credit legislation.

Retailing

There is a wide range of legislation that applies to retail outlets and that protects the interests of the consumer. For example, goods and services must not be misleadingly described and the retail price of goods must be clearly displayed. You will be responsible for making sure that all goods or services are fit for their intended purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Workplace smoking ban

Don't forget that smoking is no longer permitted in all public places, workplaces and work vehicles and you must display appropriate 'No Smoking' signs. The legislation varies slightly in different parts of the UK so contact your local authority for details of how the ban affects you. You can also find out more on the HSE website.

Carrier bag charge

A 5 pence charge applies in England, but small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees) are exempt. You can get detailed guidance from the gov.uk website.

Retailers in Wales and Scotland must charge customers at least 5 pence if they supply them with a single-use carrier bag. This applies to all types of single-use bag, whether they are made of plastic, paper or plant-based starch. There is detailed guidance on the Gov.Wales and Zero Waste Scotland websites.

In Northern Ireland retailers must charge customers a 5 pence levy on all bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence (including any bags that would otherwise be free of charge), whether they are single-use or reusable.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a bridal shop

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • premises and premises contents
  • stock held on the premises or by outworkers like seamstresses - make sure the stock sum insured is high enough to cover the peak spring and summer wedding season
  • goods in transit (being collected or delivered)
  • cover for the shop when you're at a trade exhibition or a wedding fayre
  • hire stock cover (eg non-return by hirer)
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • product liability
  • motor insurance (for business vehicles)

Hine insurance brokers offer trade specific shop insurance policies for bridal and formalwear retailers.

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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