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Market Operator's Licence

West Lothian Council operates a market operator's licensing scheme which is administered by the Council's Licensing Team. The Team are able to provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.

Which markets require a licence from the Council?

In terms of Section 40 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act, 1982, a market operator's licence is required where it is proposed to carry on a private market. The definition of private market is a market, whether covered or not, carried on by any person other than a local or public authority at which goods are be offered by more than one seller for sale by retail to the public.

This includes car boot sales and farmer's markets.

Which markets do not require a licence from the Council?

A market operator's licence shall not be required for carrying on either of the following:

  • functions held by charitable, religious, youth, recreational, community, political or similar organisations;
  • markets held only for the sale of livestock, fodder or grain.
How do you apply for a Market Operator's Licence?

If you want to apply for a licence you must submit an application form along with the required documents and the appropriate fee.

Application forms which have guidance notes attached to them and a list of fees are available from the Related Documents section of this page. You should read the guidance notes carefully before completing your application form.

There are two separate application forms. One is for persons applying for a licence as an individual and the other is to be completed by applicants who are companies, partnership or organisations. 

If you wish a temporary licence to allow you to operate at a particular event your application should preferably be made at least 3 months before the event to allow time for the application to be processed and applications must be received at least 35 days in advance of the date of the event. 

All applications are copied to the Council's advisors. Mandatory background checks will be carried out on all applicants by Police Scotland and applicants' details will be retained on computer. You will be contacted once vetting is complete.

How will my application be decided?

We have nine months in which to make a decision regarding your application however the majority of applications are determined within 60 days and applications which do not attract any adverse comments or objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers.

All other applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision to be made to grant or refuse your application. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee. The Committee meets on a monthly basis and you will be sent notice of the date and time of the meeting at which your application is to be considered along with a copy of the report on your application. Meetings are held in the West Lothian Civic Centre and you or your representative will be given the opportunity to explain to the committee at the meeting why you consider your application should be granted

If your application is refused by the Licensing Committee you may have a right of appeal against that decision and can request a written statement of reasons in relation to the decision from the Licensing Team, this must be done within 10 days of the date your application was refused. Appeals against decisions can be made to Livingston Sheriff Court, information regarding the Sheriff Court is available from the Scottish Courts website and you should consult your own legal representative should you wish further information on how to appeal.

What standard conditions will be applied if my licence is granted?

Standard conditions that are applied to market operator's licences can be found in the related documents section of this page.

How long will my licence be granted for?

A market operator's licence is issued for a period of 1 year for both the grant or renewal of a licence. Alternatively if your application is for a temporary licence, the licence will be granted for the duration you requested and can be from one day and for no longer than six weeks.

What if I want to vary any of the standard conditions in relation to my licence?

If you are a current licence holder and wish to vary a condition of your licence you need to make a variation application using the form and pay an administration fee. Please note that a separate application must be made for each licence which you wish to be varied. The application form and a list of fees can be found in the Related Documents section of this page.

Once your application form and fee are received a copy of your application will be sent to the Council's advisors for their comments. If there are no adverse comments received from advisors the licence can be varied by the Chief Solicitor using delegated powers.

However if any adverse comments are received the application would then need to be referred to the next suitable Licensing Committee for a decision to be taken. If your application needs to go to the committee the whole process may take three to four months depending on how long it takes for the advisors to respond. If your variation application is referred to committee you will be invited to attend the meeting to explain to the committee why you consider your application should be granted.

If you are applying for a new licence or to renew an existing licence and wish to request that any of the standard conditions be varied you can request that at the time you make your application without making a separate variation application. You should include a letter with your application form explaining what condition you wish varied and the reasons for that. The procedure is the same as for variation applications and if any adverse comments are received the application would then need to be referred to the next suitable Licensing Committee for a decision to be taken on the grant or renewal of the application including your request for the conditions to be varied.

You should be aware that if your application requires to be referred to the Licensing Committee that this will delay the determination of your application.

List of current market operator licence holders and premises

The following list contains details of licence holders, the list is updated regularly and at least every 12 weeks and gives details of the name of the licence holder and premises address. For the avoidance of doubt this is the only information available to members of the public.

pdf icon Market Operator Licenceholders [71kb]

How do you complain about market traders or operators?

Complaints regarding the services offered by market traders should be made to the market organiser. Complaints regarding the conduct of a licence holder may be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email or letter providing full details of the nature of the complaint and sent to the Licensing Team using the contact details box.

Complaints regarding unlicensed markets should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.