Alcohol and entertainment

The licensing of alcohol, certain types of entertainment and late night refreshment is the responsibility of the local authority and is governed by the Licensing Act 2003.

What is the purpose of the act?

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The overall aim is to modernise the legislation governing the sale and supply of alcohol and public entertainment licensing so that:

  • Various existing pieces of legislation are brought under a single Act.
  • Licensing decisions are made according to local considerations.
  • Licensing hours are deregulated (i.e. the previous restrictions on the hours when alcohol could be sold have been removed).

Where can I obtain the relevant application forms

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All relevant application, consent forms and guidance relating to the Act may be downloaded from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport website under 'Alcohol and Entertainment'. 

Does the act apply to the whole of the UK?

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No, the Act is applicable in England and Wales only.

What are the 'licensing objectives'?

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Licensing Authorities must perform their duties according to the four 'licensing objectives' contained in the Act (Section 4). These are:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder.
  • Public safety.
  • The protection of children from harm.
  • The prevention of public nuisance.

What are licensable activities?

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There are four licensable activities contained within the Act (Section 1):

  • The sale of alcohol by retail.
  • The supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to, or to the order of, a member of a club.
  • The provision of regulated entertainment.
  • The provision of late night refreshment.

What is regulated entertainment?

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Subject to qualifying conditions, and exemptions, the definitions are contained within Schedule 1 of the Act and are:

  • A performance of a play.
  • An exhibition of a film.
  • An indoor sporting event.
  • A boxing or wrestling entertainment (indoors or outdoors).
  • A performance of live music.
  • Any playing of recorded music.
  • A performance of a dance.
  • Entertainment of similar description to that falling within the performance of live music, any playing of recorded music and the performance of dance.

Where the entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience and is provided for the purpose, or for purposes which include the purpose, of entertaining that audience. This reference to an 'audience' also includes 'spectators'.

Does the act include outdoors entertainment?

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Yes, the definition of 'premises' states that it means "any place and include a vehicle, vessel of moveable structure". Unlike the previous system, any licensable activity taking place on private or public land will require a licence.

What is late night refreshment?

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Late night refreshment, subject to the relevant exemptions, is defined in Schedule 2 of the Act and is broadly, hot food or drink supplied to members of the public, on or from any premises, whether for consumption on or off the premises, between the hours of 11pm and 5am.

What types of licence are there?

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Personal licence

This is a portable licence granted to an individual enabling him/her to sell alcohol at a premises licensed for the sale of alcohol. The licence's duration is ten years. When applying for a licence an individual must submit:

      • An application form.
      • A basic criminal disclosure form (applications should be made to Disclosure Scotland).
      • Relevant qualification certificate.
      • 2 passport photographs endorsed.
      • The appropriate fee.

Premises licence

This is a licence granted in relation to specific premises and will specify the nature of the licensable activity and any applicable conditions. On application the following must be submitted:

    • An application form.
    • Plan.
    • Where alcohol is to be sold or supplied - a consent form signed by the nominated Designated Premises Supervisor .
    • The appropriate fee (based on bands relating to the domestic rateable value of the property).
  • Read more about premises licenses

Club premises certificate

This is a licence granting 'qualifying club' status to specific premises, according to a number of qualifying conditions, including the provision that there are at least 25 members and that alcohol is only supplied by or on behalf of the club. On application the following must be submitted:

Temporary event notice

This 'notice' permits the carrying-out of specified licensable activities for a restricted time period (maximum 168 hours). There are a number of further limitations with regard to such 'notices' detailed in Part 5, Section 107 of the Act.

Provisional statement

This is an 'interim' statement as regards the provision of a Premises Licence where the premises has not yet been built and provides the investors with some degree of certainty as to the future use of the premises.

Review

At any stage, following the grant of a premises licence, a responsible authority, such as the police or the fire authority, or an interested party, such as a resident living in the vicinity of the premises, may ask the licensing authority to review the licence because of a matter arising at the premises in connection with any of the four licensing objectives. Applications for the review of a premises licence or club premises certificate must be given in writing and be in the prescribed form.

Advertising the application

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Applications for Premises Licences, Club Premises Certificates, and Provisional Statements must be advertised in a local newspaper and by notice on the premises. The notice displayed on the premises must be on A4 blue paper. Click on the following links for sample newspaper and display notices:

Who needs to be notified of the Application?

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A copy of the application for a Premises Licence, Club Premises Certificate or Provisional Statements must be sent to all the responsible authorities

What are the qualification requirements for the personal licence?

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Applicants for a Personal Licence will need to hold a licensing qualification which has been accredited by the Secretary of State. The aim of this provision is to ensure that licence holders are aware of licensing law and the wider social responsibilities attached to the sale of alcohol. The syllabus is available via the Home Office website

What is a designated premises supervisor?

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A Designated Premises Supervisor must hold a Personal Licence and is the person specified on the Premises Licence who is responsible for authorising the supply of alcohol. This person must be readily identifiable and will normally be given day to day responsibility for running the premises.

What are some of the key exemptions in the act?

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Live music at small premises - (Section 177) - Where there is musical entertainment at premises which have a permitted capacity of not more than 200 persons and are used primarily for the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises, only licence conditions relating to either crime and disorder or public safety apply to that musical entertainment i.e. those relating to protection of children from harm or public nuisance do not apply to the musical entertainment. However, if there is a review of the licence then the exempted conditions can be applied.

Where there is a performance of live music between 8am and midnight (and no other form of regulated entertainment) at such premises then no licence conditions can apply with regard to the musical entertainment unless there is a review of the licence.

Place of Worship - (Schedule 1, Part 2 Exemptions) - Premises such as churches do not require a premises licence for activities which would otherwise be classified as 'regulated entertainment' taking place at the church.

Garden Fetes - (Schedule 1, Part 2 Exemptions) - Entertainment provided at a garden fete, or similar event, is not 'regulated entertainment' and thus requires no licence.

What is an 'operating schedule'?

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An 'operating schedule' is required as part of a premises licence/club premises certificate application. Whilst the precise detail of each will be slightly different the key details on the 'operating schedule' will be: when and which of the licensable activities are planned to take place at the premises; other times when the public will be present at the premises; who the designated premises supervisor is; and the steps the licence holder will take to promote the licensing objectives.

Licensing hearings

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Where a representation concerning the licensing objectives is lodged by a responsible authority about a proposed operating schedule the licensing authority's discretion will be engaged. It will also be engaged if an interested party makes relevant representations to the licensing authority i.e. those which are not frivolous or vexatious and which relate to the licensing objectives.

A hearing will be required for the licensing authority to consider the representations, at which the parties will be invited to attend, to provide clarification of their own representations.

Where a representation is made by an interested party (for example, a local business or a resident living in the vicinity of the premises) there is a preliminary stage at which the licensing authority must consider whether the representation is relevant (See Relevant, vexatious and frivolous representations).

If the licensing authority decides it is not relevant, a hearing would not be required in relation to that representation and in the absence of representations from other interested parties or responsible authorities, the application would be granted.

Relevant, vexatious and frivolous representations

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A representation will only be 'relevant' if it relates to the likely effect of the grant of the licence on the promotion of at least one of the licensing objectives. A representation that fails to do this is not 'relevant' for the purposes of the 2003 Act.

Please note, that you must provide your name and address details if you wish your representation to be accepted.

This authority is under a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information you provide on any application form for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.