A planned event called "The Creepy Crawly Show" was to have been held at a racecourse and to have involved the display and sale of small exotic animals by a number of different breeders, dealers and enthusiasts. The event's organizer applied to the local council for a pet shop licence under the Pet Animals Act 1951. The application was refused on the ground that the event was prohibited by section 2 of the Act which states that a person is guilty of an offence if he "carries on a business of selling animals as pets in any part of a street or public place, [or] at a stall or barrow in a market". The organizer's appeal to the local magistrates court was dismissed. Held: the holding of the event would have involved the carrying on a business of selling pets in a "public place". It would also have involved the selling of animals in a market. The event was therefore prohibited by section 2 and that it would have been unlawful for the local authority to have licensed it.
The magistrates refused the appeal by Mr. Rogers. They gave their reasons for doing so as follows:
1. One of the statutory definitions of a public place is a place to which the public have access whether they have to pay or not. The Creepy Crawly Show was to be held in a building on Newton Abbot Racecourse. Newton Abbot Racecourse is clearly a public place.
2. Would the holding of the Creepy Crawly Show in a building on Newton Abbot Racecourse constitute a market? A market is not defined in the Pet Animals Act 1951 as amended but is generally defined as a concourse of buyers and sellers. The buying and selling of animals is an integral but not exclusive feature of the Creepy Crawly Show.
The magistrates therefore concluded that the Creepy Crawly Show was to be held in a public place and in a setting which constituted a market. Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951 as amended states that "If any person carries on a business of selling animals as pets in any part of a street or public place, or at a stall or barrow in a market, he shall be guilty of an offence." In the light of this section of the Pet Animals Act 1951 as amended the magistrates concluded that it would be unlawful for the local authority, i.e. Teignbridge District Council, to grant such a licence and therefore dismissed Mr. Rogers' appeal.