Pop-up markets need to be aware of ancient laws


A gathering of more than five street traders may be in contravention of medieval charters.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many local business and community groups have set up temporary street stalls to sell fresh food, meat, fruit and vegetables, but ancient charters which protect the established markets in English towns and cities give authorities the power to prevent the operation of a rival market within six and two-thirds miles.

The law speaks of a 'concourse of traders', which has been defined as a collection of more than five stalls.

Section 50(2) of the Food Act, 1984 confirms the law which has operated in some areas for over nine hundred years:

'A market shall not be established in pursuance [of this section] so as to interfere with any rights, powers or privileges enjoyed within the authority's area in respect of a market, by any person, without that person's consent.'

Local councils and organisations planning to open retail facilities, even on private land such as pub car parks, are advertised to contact their nearest market authority.