FAQs second-hand sales
Secondhand sales are a popular way for PTAs to raise
funds, but don't fall foul of legal requirements - follow this
advice from Sylvia Rook, Lead Officer at the Chartered Trading
We are planning our first car boot sale, and someone has raised
the issue of trademarks, copyright and trade descriptions - what do
we need to know?
The legislation that applies to car boot sales generally applies
to the sellers, not to the organisers, although you do have a
degree of responsibility to ensure that sellers at your event do
not commit any offences. Most of the Trading Standards legislation
applies to traders selling goods, as opposed to members of the
public who are simply having a clear-out. Decide whether to allow
traders to attend, or whether to restrict the sale to members of
the public selling their own belongings. Some laws which traders
should consider include:
- The Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires that all goods should be
of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and 'as described'.
- The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
states that traders should not give false or misleading
information, or omit information, and should not act
'aggressively', if any of these practices would cause the consumer
to do something different. Signs such as 'Sold as seen' or 'No
refunds' are not permitted.
- The Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the General Product Safety
Regulations 2005 require all goods sold, including secondhand
goods, to be safe. In particular, there are specific safety
requirements for items such as toys, cosmetics and electrical
- Under the Trade Marks Act 1994 it is an offence to sell
counterfeit goods, such as DVDs, CDs, T-shirts, bags and
- Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 it is an offence to sell
films that have not been correctly classified by the BBFC, and also
to sell DVDs or video games to anyone not meeting the age on the
- Specific legal requirements relating to the sale of food items
include the need to provide allergy information (for further
information, visit the Food Standards Agency website). Traders selling
food may also need to register with the local Environmental Health Department. This is not an
exhaustive list. Anyone considering selling goods as a trader
should seek advice from their local Trading Standards office.
How do we classify who is a 'trader' or 'non-trader' and do
different rules apply?
Various pieces of legislation define what is meant by the term
'trader'. The most common is 'a person acting for purposes relating
to that person's trade, business, craft or profession, whether
personally or through another person acting in the trader's name or
on the trader's behalf'. When deciding whether someone is a trader,
- Are the goods the person is selling their own personal
property? If they buy goods specifically to resell, or make goods
to sell, they are likely to be a trader.
- Do they regularly sell at car boot sales? If so, they are
likely to be considered to be a trader, even if this is not their
- Do they employ someone to help them sell the goods, or do they
sell similar goods at other venues (eg, markets or on auction
sites)? Is the income received from selling in this way a
significant proportion of their income? If so, they are likely to
be a trader.
Whilst the majority of Trading Standards legislation applies to
traders, best practice is for all sellers to follow the guidelines
to ensure that all goods are correctly described and, more
Our tabletop sales are really popular, so we'd like to draw up
some T&Cs for stallholders. What should we include?
Ask sellers to provide their contact details in case there's a
problem. Other things to include in your terms might be:
- Time of arrival and departure, and what sellers are expected to
do with their rubbish
- The fact that any seller agrees to comply with all consumer
- Stolen goods may not be sold
- Cigarettes, tobacco products, alcohol and flammable liquids may
not be sold
- No live animals may be sold
- Sellers will not sell counterfeit items
- You may wish to restrict the sale of electrical items to
prevent fire and injury
- Are you happy for food items to be sold? If so, make it clear
that items must be within their use by/best before date and must be
stored in an appropriate manner
- No weapons, ball-bearing guns or any realistic imitation
firearms may be sold.
We recently ran a car boot sale, but a customer is claiming
that a CD they bought is scratched. What should we do?
The customer's rights are against the person from whom they
CD, not against you as the organiser. When buying secondhand,
there is always a risk that items may be damaged, and there is a
degree of caveat emptor - the legal term for 'buyer beware'. Under
the Consumer Rights Act 2015, any goods sold by a trader must be
'of satisfactory quality', and if they are not, the customer has
the right to their money back (or a repair or replacement). The
consumer should ask the trader for contact details. You do not have
the same rights if the person selling the item was not a trader. In
these circumstances, the goods must be 'as described', but there is
no requirement that they should be of satisfactory quality. People
should be careful when buying secondhand.
We're selling DVDs and games at our fair. Can we sell
certificate 18 films as long as these aren't bought by
The Video Recordings Act 1984 makes it a criminal offence to
sell an age-restricted product to an under-aged purchaser - that is
not just certificate 18 videos, but any age-restricted DVD or
computer game. Age restrictions on other items, such as spray
paint, party poppers and lighter refills also apply.
For more advice on selling secondhand goods, contact your local
Trading Standards office.
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