Posted: Wednesday, 13 April 2011 @ 10:47
There is a lot of confusion, notably on the part of the Police, about where alcohol may be consumed where it has been purchased in premises licensed to sell alcohol by retail.
In premises licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, the plan filed with the application for the licence will usually identify the areas for sale, and that area will be deemed to be "on" the premises. So there is no doubt in that case that alcohol may be consumed in that area. But what about other areas, such as beer gardens not included in the areas for sale?
First of all let me confirm that consumption of alcohol is not a licensable activity, and many Premises Licences do not have conditions restricting where the alcohol may be consumed. If the Licence is for consumption both "on" and "off" the premises, then even if only say the buildings or a small part of them are identified as the areas for "on" sales, consumption within the grounds of the premises will be deemed to be "off" the premises. Unless there is a condition on the Premises Licence restricting where alcohol is consumed, or the filed plan identifies an area for consumption, then there is no restriction.
Historically, pubs and licensed premises which had a justices’ licence (the regime prior to 2005) either included beer gardens and other areas in the designated place for sale (marked by a red line on the licence plan filed at court), so that sales could take place in the gardens, or simply restricted sale to the physical buildings or part of them, consumption outside within the grounds being permitted by virtue of the fact that they had a justices’ licence to sell alcohol for “consumption on or off the premises”.
This regime has been continued by the new legislation under the Licensing Act 2003. When justices' licences were converted to Premises Licences back in 2005. it was necessary to identify areas for consumption, and so these Premises Licences should identify areas for consumtion "off" the premises but within the grounds.
When applying for a new Premises Licence it is only necessary to identify on a plan where licensable activities take place, where 2 or more are applied for. But as I have said, consumption is not a licensable activity, and in any event the regulations do not require an area for consumption to be designated on the plan. However, the notes to the application say that a description should be included of any place intended to be used for consumption of alcohol sold on the premises for consumption off the premises.
So if you want to allow consumption in the grounds, or change areas for consumption, first of all check whether the area for consumption is defined or restricted by the words on the Premises Licence and/or the filed plan. If it is not then you do not need to apply for a variation of the Premises Licence.
Pavement drinking is also an issue here. The same principles apply if the pavement is owned by the premises. Otherwise consumption there will be subject to any pavement licence issued by the local authority.
Licensing Law Specialist
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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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