Do you think I need a licence?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by alrockman, Mar 20, 2012.

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  1. alrockman

    alrockman UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Hello everyone, I’m looking for some advice.

    I am a petmider and have been for several years, I care for peoples pets in their home and my home and I also walk people’s dogs.
    Six months ago my local council informed me that I need a licence and if I fail to obtain one I could face prison.
    The licence they say I need is an animal boarding licence and they quote this paragraph from the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963.

    No person shall keep a boarding establishment for animals except under the authority of a licence granted in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

    Interpretation.

    References in this Act to the keeping by any person of a boarding establishment for animals shall, subject to the following provisions of this section, be construed as references to the carrying on by him at premises of any nature (including a private dwelling) of a business of providing accommodation for other people’s animals:


    But they didn’t quote this section which appears to exempt me because the provision of accommodation isn’t my main activity. [FONT=&quot]I only charge for the care and exercise I provide.[/FONT]

    A person shall not be deemed to keep a boarding establishment for animals by reason only of his providing accommodation for other people’s animals in connection with a business of which the provision of such accommodation is not the main activity;

    They have now asked me to attend a recorded interview and claim I am being investigated for a possible criminal offence; they claim I could be arrested if I don’t attend.

    What do you think, I should do.
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: alrockman Member since: Mar 20, 2012
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  2. vvaannmmaann

    vvaannmmaann UKBF Legend Free Member

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    What does your solicitor think about it?
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: vvaannmmaann Member since: Nov 6, 2007
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  3. alrockman

    alrockman UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I haven't got one and can't afford one, my options are to stop working, or defend it myself when and if the council take me to court.
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: alrockman Member since: Mar 20, 2012
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  4. vvaannmmaann

    vvaannmmaann UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: vvaannmmaann Member since: Nov 6, 2007
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  5. Banned

    Banned Banned

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    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: Banned Member since: Nov 22, 2011
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  6. businessfunding

    businessfunding Guest

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    Do not accept the 'invitation' to a recorded interview.

    Take legal advice and continue to correspond as necessary.

    Remember, councils can be and often are wrong on these matters.
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: businessfunding Member since: Jan 1, 1970
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  7. BustersDogs

    BustersDogs UKBF Ace Free Member

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    That provision is in there for, say vets, who have to keep dogs overnight or during the daytime. But they dont keep them in to give them care while owners are out or on holiday, they keep them in for medical treatment, having to stay at the surgery is a side effect. The same could be true for dog trainers - the dog comes in for training and if it lives a long way away, the owners can't collect and deliver it for each training session, or the trainer keeps the dog so the owner can't ruin the training overnight before the programme is complete. So they wouldn't need a licence.

    I have been told I can have as many dogs as I like, as long as I don't charge for them, and I know of another dog walker who was banned from having a licence as his dog attacked a boarder got away with a loophole that he wasn't charging for daycare, he simply brought the dogs home between walks for his own convenience. My own council has also told me it's very hard to prove someone is charging for the dogs in their home.

    Personally, I think if you offer care in your own home as a service, and you say you 'provide care', then really you should have a licence because 'care' is the main part of your business. It is up to you, but if you can't afford a solicitor and they want a recorded interview, why not just get a licence?
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: BustersDogs Member since: Jun 7, 2011
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  8. alrockman

    alrockman UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    [FONT=&quot]Thanks and yes care is my main business but according the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 my main business as to be the provision of accommodation for me to be defined as a boarding establishment.
    I charge for my time when walking and caring for dogs and not for accommodation which costs me nothing to provide.

    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The conditions would prevent me from operating[/FONT][FONT=&quot] the business.[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: alrockman Member since: Mar 20, 2012
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  9. BustersDogs

    BustersDogs UKBF Ace Free Member

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    No, well, I don't charge for the time in my home either, not at less than 50p an hour, but not only have I had to get one, I have to count daycare dogs as part of my numbers!

    I just thought if its that serious, why not get one? It's not difficult, not that expensive, and saves you a lot of worry? You asked if people think you need one, I think you do.

    If you think otherwise and decide fight it, I would love to know how you get on, as if I don't have to have one, then I won't have to worry juggling dogs every day so one has gone home before the next one comes in to avoid going over my dog limit!
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: BustersDogs Member since: Jun 7, 2011
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  10. alrockman

    alrockman UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I have already declined the interview and asked them to come and see me to discuss it.
    They sent me a letter threatening legal action and then ignored my correspondence, then a couple of months later I got another threat of legal action and they ignored my correspondence. This time they threatened to have me arrested if I didn’t attend their interview and they now appear to be ignoring my request to come and see me. This has been going on for six months.[FONT=&quot][/FONT]
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: alrockman Member since: Mar 20, 2012
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  11. BustersDogs

    BustersDogs UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Defra might help more on the subject:

    "Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 - establishments where the boarding of animals is being carried on as a business are subject to the 1963 Act, which requires such establishments to be licensed by the local authority. For the purpose of this Act the keeping of such establishments is defined as the carrying on at any premises, including a private dwelling, of a business of providing accommodation for other people's cats and dogs."

    They phrase it as the dogs being in the home is part of business and include provate dwellings (home boarding), I expect the council won't really care how you are breaking down your charges if the dogs are there as part of your business.
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: BustersDogs Member since: Jun 7, 2011
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  12. alrockman

    alrockman UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    This is the next paragraph and defra advised that only a court can interpret legislation, and that the legislation was written with boarding kennels in mind. [FONT=&quot][/FONT]


    A person shall not be deemed to keep a boarding establishment for animals by reason only of his providing accommodation for other people’s animals in connection with a business of which the provision of such accommodation is not the main activity;

    I would have probably applied for a licence to save all the grief but the condition are too restrictive and would make it impossible to serve the needs of my clients. [FONT=&quot][/FONT]
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: alrockman Member since: Mar 20, 2012
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  13. BustersDogs

    BustersDogs UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Out of interest, what is your council? I negotiated some changes when I had my home check as you are right, some of them are not suitable for home boarding, but I know some councils have a specific home boarding licence (mine does not) and although I pay more in some ways I'm glad as apparently they restrict dogs under 6 months and I specialise in puppies!

    Mine tried to say I should not allow dogs from different families to share, when I asked the reason he said to avoid fighting. When I explained I only board my dog walking clients, so they all know each other anyway as they walk together everyday, he changed that.

    In the end, the council have more resources than most of us. :(
     
    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 By: BustersDogs Member since: Jun 7, 2011
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  14. sla3

    sla3 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    If I were you I'd not be trying to be a barrack-room lawyer on this. Yes, you might have a valid point in reference to the bit of the ABAE act you quote, but it seems you are getting nowhere with your approach of communicating in writing with the council. You say you can't afford a solicitor, but you'd have to have one (I suggest) if the matter DID come to court: the risks would be too high.

    You did say, in your opening statement that you care for peoples' animals in your home, and I suggest that it is the extent and duration of this care that is at the root of the council's interest. If you offer overnight care, then I suspect they will be ale to make a case for you to be licensed; if you care for several animals at a time, ditto; if there are (other peoples') animals in your home most days of the year (or of 'the season') then ditto.

    You can try to construct scenario where the care is ancillary to the main service (of walking) but the council may try harder to prove the opposite. If you walk the dog for 30mins, but have it in your house for an hour (or more) then I would say walking is ancillary to care!

    Have you upset any of your neighbours recently?

    Perhaps you (or, better, someone else on your behalf) could see someone in the council for a non-recorded interview (i.e. just as a member of the publici asking about setting up a dog-walking business) and get some informal advice about the implications of your way of doing business on the need to be licensed. Then attend the formal interview (with a tough-minded smart friend) and rather than answer THEIR questions get them to state THEIR case and then (or subsequently) challenge it on the basis of the information you (or your chum, rather)obtained from the informal meeting.

    Remember 1) you have the right to remain silent during the recorded interview (you will have attended, and therefore cannot be arrested for not attending, if that is even possible), 2) you may answer some questions, but not others (at some risk to later adverse interpretation of your silence) 3) you may ask them to sate their case (regardless of them telling you "vee are asking zee qvestions") 4) you will not be dealing with the nation's finest and brightest, but they are remorseless - it's the way they get their kicks 5) an interview is (or can be made) a two-way process in the interest of unearthing the facts of the matter at hand and recalcitrance to declare their position and grounds for action on their part will not play well later 6) being arrested is not a trivial matter - do you WANT to be on the DNA database and have a police record? Both will apply even if you are later found to be not guilty 7) Check whether whatever offence you are charged with IS an arrestable offence - frankly it seems odd that it would be, but the law IS an odd beast 8) Remember, the law IS an odd beast - you mess with it at your peril.

    Seek a path through this rather than relying on your interpretation of the law to erect barricades behind which to hunker down and hope it goes away. It won't.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2012 By: sla3 Member since: Feb 16, 2012
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  15. sla3

    sla3 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    One is forced to ask what part of any legal instrument he was basing that instruction on! Like I say, council employees are not the nation's brightest and finest, and this one clearly had never actually cared for a dog, let alone more than one.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2012 By: sla3 Member since: Feb 16, 2012
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  16. BustersDogs

    BustersDogs UKBF Ace Free Member

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    That was the vet who does the home check. They don't usually get much canine behaviour training, but he is also concerned with spread of disease. I keep very good records of what dogs are here at what time (often we can have 6 daycare dogs, but in shifts as I'm only allowed 4 at a time), so if disease comes in we can see what dogs have been in contact with each other. So that helped as well.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2012 By: BustersDogs Member since: Jun 7, 2011
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  17. David A

    David A UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    Have they stated this in writing? If so, you may have grounds for claiming an abuse of power.

    Having looked at the
    Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, the sanction on conviction is a maximum fine on Level 2 (£500). It doesn't seem to give any grounds that would make you liable to arrest under the criteria listed in Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

    Do not attend any interview. It's purpose will be to gather sufficient evidence that would satisfy a magistrate in a prosection - such evidence will be difficult to gather other than from you. Should you attend the interview then by prior and clever questions already formulated before the interview, they are likely to get you to incriminate yourself.

    Some decades ago I used to be a revenue inspector on the railways. I was often on my own and used to haunt smaller stations in plain clothes just past the ticket office. I would stop exiting passengers, show my Inspectors Badge, and ask a couple of questions:
    Q. Would you please show me your ticket for the journey you have just made?
    A. I didn't get one.

    Passenger cautioned under PACE

    Q. As you have gone past the ticket office for this station, would you agree that you would not have paid for this journey if I had not stopped you?
    A. Yes.

    Passenger has incriminated him/herself by admitting fraud with intent.
    Don't forget that these are summary offences. Thus the case has to be placed before magistrates within six months of the offence. As this has been going on for more than six months, they then have to look at you doing this on a date later than the one they initially started their investigation on.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2012 By: David A Member since: Mar 25, 2011
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  18. David A

    David A UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    Be very, very cautious about attending an interview. In my earlier post I have written that you should not. I repeat that stance - do not voluntarily attend an interview unless there are compelling reasons.

    Don't worry about the police and DNA as this would be a LA prosecution conducted through their lawyer - the police would not be involved. It is only if you are convicted that a record would be made.

    I agree that arrest is not trivial - even if this alleged offence gave a power of an arrest, the arrested person is then entitled to legal representation and all the protection of PACE. This is much better than a voluntary interview.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2012 By: David A Member since: Mar 25, 2011
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  19. sla3

    sla3 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Is it possible that the OP can be arrested for not attending the interview (i.e. some kind of 'obstruction of justice' (Justice? hah!)) rather than for the original allegation?

    I do think that the OP really should get some objective input to deteremine whether he is or is not likley to be in contravention of regulations ratehr than relying on his own (ncessarily partial) reading of statute.

    This matter DOES have to be resolved, and I don't think the "do nothing" approach is terribly useful. It is also a matter of considerable stress to have these matters 'open' for any length of time, the impact of which whilst not immediately visible is nonetheless costly upon one's health. The evidence of a possible offence would not be difficult to collect, especially if the OP has a 'nosey neighbour" or a customer he has perhaps upset.

    I do find we (I emphasise the we) barrack-room lawyer-types do tend to upset folk without knowing!
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
    Posted: Mar 21, 2012 By: sla3 Member since: Feb 16, 2012
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  20. alrockman

    alrockman UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Thanks, that’s what I thought, I’m not trying to hide what we do, I just don’t see how the legislation can possibly apply to the business we run, the council won’t even deal with our complaint so we are going to see a solicitor tomorrow. Six months ago the council even suggested leaving the pets we care for in their own home and if we just visited them we wouldn’t need a licence, that would mean the dogs have much less care and our clients in would be in breach of the animal welfare act 2006.
     
    Posted: Mar 21, 2012 By: alrockman Member since: Mar 20, 2012
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