Licensing Update March 2012

Posted: Thursday, 15 March 2012 @ 11:19

Licensing Act 2003 general reforms

The government have announced their intention to bring in some of the new measures contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 in April 2012. The remainder are likely to come into force in the autumn, as a major redrafting of the Statutory Guidance will be required.

The changes for April will be:

1. Licensing authorities and Health authorities will become Responsible Authorities which means they will be able to object to new applications as well as take an existing Premises Licence to a formal Review.

2. a significant increase in the maximum fine for persistently selling alcohol to under age persons from £10000 to £20000

3. increasing the period of voluntary closure for persistent underage sales, as an alternative to a criminal conviction and fine, from 48 hours to a maximum of 336 hours (14 days)

4. when considering applications at a hearing it will no longer be necessary for the licensing authority to establish before imposing conditions that they are necessary to prevent the licensing objectives being undermined, they will only have to decide that they are “appropriate”.

5. Temporary Event Notices will have a new procedure for those (late notices) served no earlier than 9 working days and no later than 5 working days before an event, the current cut off being 10 working days for all Notices. The down side is that not only the police but environmental health may also object, and that for the first time conditions may be imposed on Notices.

It is expected that the date will be 6 April, but this has yet to be confirmed.

So now is your last chance to for those Premises Licences, Variations, and TENS, before the new laws come into force.

The changes now likely for the autumn are:

• a far reaching power for licensing authorities to introduce Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders.
• the introduction of the Late Night Levy which will impact those premises selling alcohol after 12 midnight.
• power to licensing authorities to set their own fees, subject to some restrictions.

Music and Entertainment

The Live Music Act 2012 is not expected to come into force until the autumn, again due to a need to redraft the Statutory Guidance.

Just to remind you of the provisions:

Dancing: where a venue has a Premises Licence to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises and for dancing, and has a permitted capacity of no more than 200, any licensing authority imposed conditions relating to the dancing will not have effect unless they were imposed as necessary for the prevention of crime or disorder or public safety, or were imposed on a formal Review.
Only dancing to live music or unamplified music which qualify as set out below will in effect be free of conditions.

Live Music: live music where the capacity is no more than 200 will not be considered regulated entertainment in the first place, and will not therefore require authorisation under a Premises Licence, if it is limited to live music between the hours of 8 am and 11pm. But conditions can be imposed on a Review of the Premises Licence as if it was regulated entertainment.
If the music is unamplified and between 8am and 11pm it is not deemed regulated entertainment at all, whatever the capacity of the premises, and so again no conditions can be enforced unless it is on a Review.

Entertainment Facilities: the requirement that entertainment facilities themselves have to be licensed as regulated entertainment will be removed. So it will no longer be necessary to be licensed just because you have a dance floor and amplification, or perhaps a stage. It is the entertainment itself which may need an authorisation, unless it is small scale live music only or unamplified music, as described above.

Premier League 3 Karen Murphy 3 (Premier League win after extra time?)

Karen Murphy may well have won her appeal against conviction for using a foreign (Greek) satellite decoder to show Premier League football matches in her pub in Portsmouth, but as I anticipated, it is the Premier League who are more likely to win in the long game.

Karen Murphy has escaped her criminal convictions, but there is still the issue of breach of copyright.

In February in another action, the High Court decided that it was not illegal to import foreign satellite decoders into the UK. It also decided that it was not illegal in principle to broadcast Premier League copyrighted matches, but to do so no copyright material must be broadcast. So if it is possible to show the live matches, the pure football, without the razzamataz and punditry, that will be ok. This may be extremely difficult to achieve, however inventive the suppliers of decoders may be. For example the titles and anthems are subject to copyright, so cannot be shown, and it is inevitable that the Premier League will overlay copyright material on the full length of broadcasted matches making it impossible to show them without breaching copyright. So it is likely they will win out in the end.

Nigel Musgrove
Licensing Law Specialist 
0845 003 5639

For free advice on this topic please call us on 0845 003 5639.

This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.


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