European Services Directive



The European Services Directive became part of United Kingdom legislation on 28th December 2009. It covers a range of licensing functions undertaken by local authorities.


When the Directive emerged the Government took the view that it had a fundamental impact on market rights and the ability to control the balance of trade on markets. 


Around three quarters of the markets in the UK are run by public bodies. Removing these powers from local authorities has the potential to push the sector further into decline and will curb councils from renewing their retail markets.


NABMA and NMTF have been engaged in continuous dialogue with the Government since 2009 and we believe that we have made some significant progress. While the final decisions on how the Directive applies to markets is a matter for the courts, the Government appears to have accepted the validity of some of the main arguments put forward by NABMA and NMTF. 


As far as franchise rights go, NABMA and the NMTF advise that local authorities can continue to use their market rights provided there is a structured regulatory approach to their use and the following requirements are respected:


“It is set law that the essential feature (of market rights) gives the holder sole and exclusive rights to hold markets within a common law distance of six and two-third miles... Whilst the Council had originally sought to protect its franchise from competition, its motives changed following the coming into force of the Competition Act 1998.  It now seeks to regulate markets within a regulatory structure.”


Mr Justice Smith (Leeds City Council v Watkins, 2003; UKCLR 467)






The position of NABMA and NMTF is that markets should have a written markets rights policy dealing with the procedure that needs to be followed when someone wants to establish a new market. This procedure should set out how the application will be judged. 


With regard to balance of trade there is no reason why an application to trade on the market cannot be refused if the goods involved are already represented on the market. However, any such decision needs to be underpinned by a balance of trade policy which a potential trader can inspect and understand why an application is refused.  


These policies can operate even when the market has several empty stalls. Templates, developed by NABMA, can be downloaded below:



Further guidance will be published here when it is available. For more information, market operators and market traders can contact, respectively, NABMA and the NMTF using the details below.



T: 01691 680 713
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T: 01226 749 021
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Don't forget to keep in touch, we really appreciate your feedback and comments.


If you like what we are doing, please share 'Mission For Markets' with your friends.