Q: Can I deal with accredited agents only?
Our working men's club wants to hire acts but we do not know how to find reputable agents to deal with. Can we refuse to deal with any who do not belong to registered trade association or is that against the law?
A: Yes you can, and no it is not. You are entitled to deal or not to deal with whomsoever you please. The recent cancellation of the licensing system for entertainment agents leaves membership of trade associations such as the Agents' Association and the National Entertainment Agents Council and The Entertainment Agents Association as virtually the only clear badge of respectability by which an agent can be judged. Although that is not to say that no member of such an association ever transgresses or that any agent who is not a member of such an association is necessarily not to be trusted.
It is now more than ever important for the trade associations concerned to monitor and police their members' activities and discipline any involved in malpractice. Dealing with a member of one of the recognised reputable associations gives you a better chance of not encountering a problem with your agent than would otherwise be the case. It has recently been suggested that managements should refuse to deal with agents who are not members of one of the recognised trade associations but' in the unlikely event of such a scheme being adopted, the question of its legality might be referred by the Office of Fair Trading to the Restrictive Trade Practices Court.
If you have trouble finding a reputable agent I suggest you telephone one of the associations mentioned above and ask for a recommendation.
First published March 1995