Dressmaker legal issues

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

What licences does a dressmaker need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to dressmakers.

You should, however, be aware of the following:

  • if background music is provided in your workshop or studio for customers or staff, then you'll need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd
  • businesses which keep computerised records of customers' details may be required to register as data users with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)

Protecting original 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). You will also benefit from being able to licence someone else to use your designs, or even sell them your registered designs. A single design item can be registered, if required. You'll need to renew the registration every five years.

Consumer protection

You should be aware that there is specific regulation which applies to children's nightwear, which must comply with flammability performance requirements. Contact your local trading standards department for further details.


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.

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 dessmaker

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, premises contents
  • stock and work in progress
  • customers' garments (being altered/repaired)
  • goods in transit (being collected or delivered)
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • motor insurance (for business vehicles)

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