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Home Authority principle

What is the Home Authority Principle?

Local authorities help businesses operating in the UK to comply with legislation by providing advice, guidance and information.

Businesses will generally build up a relationship with, and receive advice and information from, one particular local authority. This is usually the local authority where the business is based. In relation to trading standards and food safety matters, local government has developed a scheme where that authority is referred to as the Home Authority i.e. "the local authority where the relevant decision making base of a business is located."

For example:

  1. For sole traders or businesses with only one site or office, the Home Authority will be the local authority where this site or office is located. This also applies to businesses trading over the internet.
  2. For businesses with multiple branches, stores etc throughout the UK, the Home Authority will generally be the local authority where the head office (or another decision making centre) is located.

A trade association cannot set up a single home authority relationship for all of its members. Each member of a trade association has to develop its own relationship with the local authority where it is based.

The Home Authority Principle is therefore a scheme developed by local authorities to help businesses by providing contact points for advice and guidance in order to maintain high standards of public protection, encourage fair trade and develop a consistent approach to enforcement, and to help each other by reducing duplication of effort and improving communications.

How does the Home Authority Principle Work?

When acting as a Home Authority a local authority may carry out a number of roles for businesses. For example:

  • provide specific contact officer(s);
  • identify the scope of the Home Authority service to the business;
  • provide advice and guidance;
  • visit businesses and monitor trends, company policies etc;
  • ensure businesses comply with all relevant legislation, and make them aware that formal enforcement might follow if they fail to comply;
  • respond to queries from a business. This can help minimise unnecessary burdens of new legislation on business e.g. agreeing at an early stage details of how to comply with new requirements or introduce new product lines;
  • act as contact point for other local authorities (see Originating and Enforcing Authorities information below) that may have queries and complaints about businesses in your Home Authority area;

Businesses in a Home Authority area should:

  • comply with all relevant legislation;
  • be open and honest;
  • be willing to disclose all relevant information about their business;
  • on request, supply any evidence in support of statements, procedures and claims;
  • accept local authority advice in good faith, although you are not legally bound to follow it, recognising that it may be amended due to changes in legislation, case law etc;
  • where appropriate, update or improve relevant operating procedures, following local authority advice on compliance and good practice, within agreed timescales
  • cooperate, where appropriate, with Enforcing Authorities conducting investigations