Posted: Thursday, 23 August 2012 @ 10:06
If you intend to carry out one or more of the 4 licensable activities, you must apply for a Premises Licence to the Licensing Authority for the place where the premises are situated.
The four licensable activities are:-
- The retail sale of alcohol
- The supply of alcohol to members of a club
- Regulated entertainment (e.g. music, dancing, plays, karaoke, spectator sports, recorded visuals e.g. DVD/Hard Drive)
- Late night refreshment (hot food and/or hot drink between 11pm and 5am)
If you intend to sell alcohol by retail, then alcohol can only be sold if there is a designated premises supervisor (DPS), who must hold a current Personal Licence.
The licensing regime has four licensing objectives, namely:-
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- Public safety
- The prevention of public nuisance
- The protection of children from harm
All licensing activity, whether by licensing authorities, responsible authorities which include the police, fire brigade, and trading standards officers, and indeed operators themselves, must be conducted with a view to promoting these 4 licensing objectives. No other agenda is relevant.
You must carry out a risk assessment to identify whether your intended use of the premises may undermine one or more of the licensing objectives. You should consider measures to minimise identified risks, and therefore appropriate conditions you are willing to accept. For example, if your premises will be providing adult entertainment you will need to offer a condition that children will not be allowed on the premises when adult entertainment is taking place. Also if you are going to provide entertainment you will have to consider how to minimise potential noise nuisance. The proposed measure should be recorded in the relevant section of the application form. The forms can usually be found on the licensing authority website, but are also available on the Home Office website.
If you need further help, look at the Secretary of State’s Guidance, which can also be found on the Home Office website.
But do not be over zealous, as any conditions offered by you will be recorded on the Premises Licence and breach of a condition is a criminal offence.
The application form should identify the type of premises intended, e.g. a pub, a night club, a hotel, a cafe, a community centre, a supermarket, a convenience store, and identify all activities at the premises. It should include the non domestic rateable value, as this will determine the fee payable for the application as well as the annual fee. The opening hours of the premises, and any seasonal variations, need to be set out. The times for all the licensable activities need to be included, as well as seasonal variations such as Christmas, New Year, Easter, Bank Holidays, Saints days, and major sporting event days.
If alcohol is to be sold the details of the DPS will have to be included.
You will also need a plan of the premises to scale. The plan must show all areas where each licensable activity will take place. The plan must also show all fire precaution measures and location of safety equipment, all entrances and exits and escape routes, steps, stairs, lifts, raised platforms, internal and external walls, fixed structures, such as bars and tables, and the extent of the boundary of the premises.
When you are ready to make the application you will need to send the application form, plan and fee, to the Licensing Authority. If you intend selling alcohol you will also need to send the statutory form of consent from the DPS. At exactly the same time you will need to serve copies of these documents on all of the responsible authorities, such as the police, health authority, fire officer, and trading standards officer. A full list of names and addresses can usually be found on the Licensing Authority web site, but if not they can supply it to you. It is vital to make sure that the Licensing Authority and all responsible authorities receive the papers at the same time. For that reason I strongly recommend Special Delivery post.
It is also possible to make an on-line application, which has the added benefit that the Licensing Authority then serve all other responsible authorities.
You must then display and advertise the application. A notice of the application containing the required details must be printed in black print with font size of a minimum of 16 on pale blue paper. It must be displayed on or near the premises where it can be conveniently read by the public passing by. Larger premises need to repeat the display every 50 metres. The notice must be displayed from the day after the Licensing Authority received the application, and it must remain in place for at least 28 days. The notice must also be advertised in a newspaper circulating in the area where the premises are situated. The advert must appear within 10 working days of the day the Licensing Authority received the application. A copy should then be sent to the Licensing Authority.
If there are no relevant representations from the police, fire authority, other responsible authorities, or indeed anyone else such as individuals organisations or businesses, within the 28 day period for representations, the Licensing Authority will issue the Premises Licence if the application was made properly. If representations are made, a hearing must take place within a further 20 working days. My experience is that hearings usually take longer, so allow 3 months for the process to a final decision.
Once issued, a Premises Licence can be varied at any time, by a similar process. It lasts indefinitely, and will only lapse if revoked, surrendered, if it is issued for only a limited period, or the holder dies or becomes insolvent.
If you want advice on how to apply for a Premises Licence, and any licensing issues, contact Nigel Musgrove Licensing law specialist at Cousins Business Law.
Article updated 23rd August 2012
Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
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