Posted: Tuesday, 28 July 2009 @ 16:51
On Wednesday 29 July 2009 new procedures come into force for dealing with so called "minor variations" of Premises Licences.
The problem is that the government have failed to nail a helpful definition. As usual the language they use is woolly and open to wide variation. And in this case that puts the power into the hands of the licensing authority licensing officers. Any application must therefore be something of a gamble and could cost you time and money.
So what is it all about? Until 29 July the only way you could change the licensable activities or terms and conditions on the Premises Licence, other than a change of the Designated Premises Supervisor, was to apply for a full variation of the licence, which is sometimes as time consuming and expensive as an application for a new licence. The new procedure was intended to provide a fast track and cheap alternative for variations which will "not adversely impact" on the licensing objectives. But some authorities, and neighbours, will see any change as an "adverse impact" and challenge the application. And if there is any challenge it is likely that the application will be rejected and you will have to start again with a full variation application, and lose your fee of £89.
So I would recommend that you only use the procedure for uncontroversial changes, such as minor alterations like moving a bar structure, removing redundant conditions, or redundant licensable activities,and perhaps adding late night refreshment where no additional hours to the sale of alcohol are involved. You cannot use the procedure to increase the hours in a day that alcohol may be sold or supplied, or extend the hours for sale or supply of alcohol between 11pm and 7am.
You will have to serve an application on the licensing authority and post a notice of the application on the premises, and any written objection within a 10 working days will mean that the licensing officer will have the power to determine whether the proposal does have an "adverse impact" on the licensing objectives, and deliver a decision in 15 working days.
For advice on the minor variation procedure and any other issue on the Licensing Act 2003 and licensing law please contact me.
Licensing Law Specialist
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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