There are several legalities to consider when running a BJC; setting up a Limited company, Health and safety Risk Assessments, Insurance, and other liabilities.
Most years the BJC organising team form a Limited Company just for the event.
There are some benefits and some negatives to this.
- If the event makes a loss, and the organisers have done nothing stupid, fraudulent or negligent, then they personally won't be liable for the loss.
- The Organisers also end up with a limited company with about 18 months successful trading history, which if they wish to keep running they can. Especially useful if they named it something that wasn't event specific, so BJC2010 Ltd. isn't really useful, but Kaotik Arts Ltd. is.
- A new company may struggle to get credit (e.g with hire companies), but by the time a BJC is paying for equipment hire there should be plenty of funds available so that credit is not required.
- A limited company requires at least one director (used to be two). All directors have to file personal tax returns if they receive any income, or benefits from the company. (to quote HMRC"You must complete a return if you're a company director (unless you're a director of a non-profit organisation, for example a charity, and don't receive any payments or benefits)"
- There are costs involved:
- Set-up costs. These are minor (less than £100).
- A limited company must submit an annual return to Companies House. This costs £15 (in 2010) if you file online.
- As a business, you will need to submit accounts. Limited company accounts are more complex than personal accounts. If your turnover is over a certain threshold, you have to submit audited accounts, which means you are legally obliged to pay an accountant - although practically, whatever kind of business you have, you would be wise to pay for one in any case.
A company with a turnover over a certain threshold in any 12 month period (£81,000 in 2014) has to register for VAT (check HMRC website for any changes in rules). VAT registration is a complete nightmare and should be avoided if at all possible. Currently, no BJC has gone over the limit. Careful budgeting should hopefully ensure that it stays that way.
Health and Safety Risk Assessments & Insurance
BJCs also require some extensive risk assessment, and Event insurance. The organisers are responsible as employers for the safety of their staff (volunteers count as staff legally), plus they have a duty of care towards their customers.
You are legally required to keep an accident book so you can log any accidents and your response.
The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) have produced "The event safety guide" a 190 page handbook which is available to download for free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg195.pdf which give guidelines about safety at events and legal requirements.
There is also information on the HSE website eg: http://www.hse.gov.uk/event-safety/managing-an-event.htm
Activities such as the sale of alcohol and the provision of entertainment require a licence from the local council. Events without the appropriate licence are subject to being shut down, vigorously and immediately.
You might also be liable for the behaviour of your attendees, see Law page.