Rules and Regulations
There are certain legal acts that apply to businesses which trade in goods and products.
One of the most important of these acts are The Sale of Goods Act 1979, Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. This is the main legislation governing the retail industry. The main requirement of these acts is that goods sold are as described and of satisfactory quality. The seller, not the manufacturer is responsible if goods do not conform to these contracts.
All of these acts are subject to amendments, orders and guidelines so you’ll need to keep up-to-date with them once you’ve started the business.
More detail on these acts can be found in the Department of Trade and Industry factsheet, Trader’s Guide: The Law Relating to the Supply of Goods and Services.
As with any business where you take on staff there are regulations and laws you must adhere to as an employer, including paying your staff the National Minimum Wage. It also goes without saying that your premises must comply with health and safety standards.
The Disability Discrimination Act also requires service providers, which can include local shops, to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to allow people with disabilities to have access. However, this does not necessarily mean a small shop is bound by law to, for example, install ramps or hearing loops. A reasonable adjustment for a large chain of department stores will not be the same for a small local shop. The point of the law is to make practical adjustments based on the means and resources of the shop.
“You have to be very proactive about keeping on top of new laws that come in,” says Goodwin of Natural Health in Hertford. “Regulations is one of those things you have to keep up to date with on a day to day basis. It wasn’t really so much of an issue until I took on the second shop but keeping on top of staff issues can be difficult. I’ve been caught out on contract issues in the past so now I make sure a solicitor checks things over.”