Licensing Update November 2011

Posted: Friday, 11 November 2011 @ 12:03

Since my blog in September, there have been no major developments with the reforms already in the pipeline, but here is an update:

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act
This came onto the statute books on 15 September 2011. However, we still do not know when the Act will come into force. That depends upon the Home Office, and I understand that they have not yet even begun the consultation on the necessary regulations to give effect to all the changes, let alone prepare a new Statutory Guidance. It is possible that some of the straight forward provisions such as an increase in fines and changes to Temporary Event Notices could be introduced quickly, but I now believe that the realistic timetable is during the last 3 months of 2012.

To remind you of what is in store:
• more power to licensing authorities and those who may wish to object to applications or take a Premises Licence to a formal Review.
• a significant increase in the maximum fine for sale of alcohol to under age persons.
• 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 is to be given to licensing authorities to set their own fees, subject to some restrictions.
Temporary Event Notices 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.
For more details see my blog of 29 July.

Live Music
There are 2 on-going scenarios. Firstly back on 8 August I blogged on the Bill going through Parliament which proposed some important changes for live music in small venues. The Bill has passed through the House of Lords and the second reading is scheduled to take place in the House of Commons on 25 November. It could well become law before the end of the year. To remind you of the changes:

1. 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.
2. Live Music: live music satisfying the capacity limit of 200 will not be considered regulated entertainment, 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. In addition, 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. If a Premises Licence does authorise live music, any conditions will not have effect as far as live music satisfying the capacity limit and hours is concerned, unless again they are imposed on a Review of the Premises Licence.
3. Facilities: 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.

Secondly, on 10 September the Department for Culture Media and Sport, who have the responsibility for the regulated entertainment parts of the Licensing Act, issued a consultation paper with proposals which go far beyond anything that the industry could have dreamed of in terms of de-regulating live music. This consultation may have a far reaching impact on music in pubs. The closing date for responses to the consultation is 3 December 2011.

Cigarette Vending Machines: these became illegal on 1 October 2011.

Minimum Pricing: I thought that this had gone away, but out of the blue the government has announced that it intends to bring into force a ban on below cost sales of alcohol on 6 April 2012. It is believed that the basis will be duty plus VAT.
So, what will this mean? Most drinks and drinkers will be unaffected. It is only the supermarkets who “deep discount” who are likely to be troubled. The average corner shop cannot afford to loss lead, and certainly not pubs.
The minimum sale price at the current rate will be as follows:
Lager: a 440ml can of 4.2% - £0.38
Cider: a litre of 4.5%- £0.40
Wine: a 750ml bottle of 12.5%- £2.03
Whisky: a 700ml bottle of 40%- £8.00
Vodka: a litre bottle of 37.5%- £10.71
On average this works out at 21p a unit for beer, and 28p per unit for spirits.

Festive Temporary Event Notices
If you are planning to get extra hours for Christmas parties and permission for regulated entertainment, indeed any extension to what is permitted on your Premises Licence, apply NOW! See my blog of 28 October 2010 for the procedure

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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