Howes Percival’s licensing law expert, Jamie Childs, provides some top tips for owners and operators of licensed premises to be aware of.
The regulatory framework and practicalities of carrying on a business involving licensable activities can often appear confusing and discouraging to those looking to secure, vary or simply maintain their premises licences. Premises licences are often one of the most valuable assets a business has and it is worthwhile spending some time ensuring this is fit for purpose. Jamie Childs highlights some top tips for operators of licensed premises to consider.
1. The licensable activities
The first thing to consider is whether the activities that you may wish to carry on are licensable at all.
Whilst the sale of alcohol for consumption on or off the premises or the sale of hot food or drink to the public between 11pm and 5am are activities that are certainly licensable it is not always as easy to form such a conclusion without further investigation.
For example, the performance of a play, exhibition of a film, an indoor sporting event, boxing or wrestling, the performance of live music, the playing of recorded music and the performance of dance are other activities that are potentially licensable depending on the manner they are carried on.
2. New premises licences
If you have formed the view that the activities that you wish to carry on are licensable then you need to consider making an application for a new premises licence.
At this stage, you need to consider the relevant licensing authority’s licensing policy, the practicalities of carrying on the licensable activities at the premises you are considering using and discussing your proposals with the licensing authority informally before an application for a premises licence is made. You will also need to ensure you or one of your employees has a Personal Licence and is prepared to act as Designated Premises Supervisor for your premises licence.
The application for a premises licence itself will need to be made in a specified form and with a compliant plan, is subject to a statutory publication and consultation procedure and will need to be accompanied by the correct fee.
At this stage you will need to consider what the licensable area of your premises should be so this can be shown on the plan and whether you want to volunteer any conditions to be attached to your premises licence to address any concerns that the licensing authority or consultees may have.
3. Alternatives to a new licence or varying an existing licence
If you are not convinced that your proposed licensable activity will be a success, you want to test the water before committing to a new licence or your event is a “one-off” you might want to consider serving a Temporary Event Notice (“TEN”) instead of applying for a new licence or varying your existing licence.
A TEN can allow the carrying on of a licensable activity for fewer than 500 people (including staff) which lasts for no more than 168 hours although there are limits on how many can be applied for at a single premise and whether you have a Personal Licence. You will also need to be organised as a TEN must be applied for at least 10 clear working days before any event.
There is also the option of applying for a “late TEN” which can be done up to 5 clear working days before the event.
4. Is your premises licence fit for purpose?
Now is also a good time to review any existing premises licence that you have to ensure that this allows you to operate your premises in the way you want to.
Key things to consider are the operating hours for licensable activities, the requirements of licensing conditions and whether the plan showing the licensable area of your premises remains up-to-date or may need to change if you are considering redevelopment or reconfiguration of your premises.
One trend that we have seen recently is for licensed operators to diversify into offering delivery services either through established operators such as Deliveroo or Just Eat or by operating such services themselves. Operators should check that their premises licences allow them to carry on such services in the way that they want.
5. Other issues to remain aware of
In conjunction with reviewing your premises licence (or the need for one), there are a number of other regimes that you need to remain aware of.
Like all other workplaces, the owners and operators of licenced premises will need to have regard to and adhere to health and safety law and fire safety legislation.
If you are contemplating the redevelopment or reconfiguration of your premises you will need to ensure that you have the necessary planning permission to do this and that there are no property law issues such as access rights or restrictive covenants which would prevent this.
You will also need to continue to consider the implications of the General Data Protection Regulations in relation to matters such as CCTV footage and the personal data of workers and employees.
Howes Percival has a dedicated Leisure and Tourism team who have been advising clients in the leisure and tourism industry for over 25 years. Howes Percival’s team includes solicitors specialising in regulatory, property, employment, licensing, intellectual property and commercial law so can provide a full service to operators of licenced premises so are well equipped to advise operators of licenced premises on any legal issues they have.
The information on this site about legal matters is provided as a general guide only. Although we try to ensure that all of the information on this site is accurate and up to date, this cannot be guaranteed. The information on this site should not be relied upon or construed as constituting legal advice and Howes Percival LLP disclaims liability in relation to its use. You should seek appropriate legal advice before taking or refraining from taking any action.