Pub gardens and sale of alcohol

Posted: Thursday, 5 July 2018 @ 09:53

There is often confusion about on and off sales and consumption of alcohol in pub gardens.

Since 2005 the main cause has been the lack of clarity in the licensing law. The latest Guidance issued by the Home Office tries to make it clear.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.

Premises are only loosely defined, and you have to look at the form of Application for the Premises Licence and the filed plan, and the Licence itself. The certainty is that the plan will define the area in which a sale is permitted. The Application and Licence will say if the authority is to sell for consumption on or off the premises or both.But what about other areas, such as beer gardens not included in the areas for sale?

First of all 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 the filed plan will identify the areas for "on" sales, and consumption within other areas will be deemed to be "off" the premises. There is no legal requirement to show on the plan areas intended to be used for "off" sales consumption.

The latest Guidance confirms that the sale of alcohol is treated as having taken place where the alcohol is "appropriated to the contract". So if you buy the alcohol at the bar and take it outside to the beer garden which is not part of the "on" area, or the staff member has to return to the "on" area of the pub to fetch the alcohol, then that is an "off" sale.

Whilst there is no legal requirement to show the beer garden on the plan filed with the Licensing Authority, there is a requirement to explain on an application where the area for consumption is and its proximity to the premises. So do check with the Licensing Authority. If the paperwork does not identify an off sale drinking area, they may be happy for you to just confirm in writing where it is and/or file an up to date plan to show it.

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.

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
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
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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