Picture framing legal issues

Man in jumper holding small framed picture in picture framing shop

There are various aspects of running a picture framing business which are likely to be affected by rules and regulations. These include selling goods and services to the public, protecting employees, and general health and safety. The following is an outline of some of the areas that may be relevant to you. The list is not intended to be exhaustive.

What licences does a picture framing business need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to picture framers.

Bear in mind though that if you want to play background music in your shop then it's likely you'll 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.

Protecting original designs

You should be aware of copyright law, which gives copyright protection to original designs including 'artistic craftsmanship'. The copying of original designs without permission is prohibited. If you produce unique frame designs, you can protect yourself from counterfeiting by registering your designs with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). A single design item can be registered if required.

There is more information available on the IPO section of the Gov.uk website.

Retailing and services

There is a range of legislation that applies to retail outlets and service providers to protect 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 frames and framing services are fit for their intended purpose and of satisfactory quality. If you offer frame repairs, cleaning or restoration, these must be done with care.

The Fine Art Trade Guild offers members a number of benefits including a legal advice line for help with any aspect of business or personal life and the Framers Technical Helpline for information on matters like copyright and licensing issues. You can find out more on the Guild's website.

Selling online

If you intend to sell made to order or ready-made frames by mail order or online, you should be aware of the distance selling rules. These protect the rights of the customer and specify that clear information must be given about the goods offered. There's detailed guidance on your legal obligations to consumers, and on the requirements when selling online, on the Trading Standards Business Companion website.

Hazardous substances

A picture framer may use various hazardous substances and specific regulations cover their use, storage and disposal. It's important to make sure that your and any employees' exposure to potentially harmful substances is minimised. This might involve precautions such as using gloves to limit exposure of the skin to glues, varnishes and so on, or dust masks to avoid exposure to wood dust. Hazardous substances must be stored and disposed of correctly too.

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 picture framing business

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 and stock
  • goods in trust (for customers' paintings and other items left with you for framing)
  • goods in transit
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • motor insurance (for delivery vehicles)

The Fine Art Trade Guild offers its members savings on specialist business insurance policies.

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