Licensing Law

UK Licensing laws cover 3 licensable activities which are defined in the Licensing Act 2003; alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshment services.

By law a licence will be needed for:

  1. the sale of alcohol
  2. providing regulated entertainment
  3. selling hot food at night.

The purposes of the licensing laws are to prevent crime, promote public safety, protect children from harm and prevent public nuisance.

Applying for a licence

The licensable activities are then subject to various forms of authorisation which include:

  • Premises licences,
  • Club premises certificates (CPC),
  • Personal licences
  • Temporary event notices (TEN)

Authorisation for a licensed activity is obtained from the Local Authority and authorisation for a licensed activity is only granted after completion of the licensing process.

In order to be authorised to provide the licensable activities, you must apply to the Local Authority to hold a premises licence. A new application must be sent to various responsible authorities who can then make representations if they a) do not wish to consent to the licence or b) they will agree to the licence, but only with certain conditions. If there are no representations the licence will be granted.

In the event that a licence is not granted, you can appeal to the Magistrates Court. BRM can offer advice, attend the hearing and represent you should you wish to appeal.

Pub licensing and nightclub licensing are common licensing applications and both pub and nightclubs will require one or more licenses to sell alcohol, provide entertainment or hot food.

 Alcohol Licensing Law

The history of alcohol licensing

You might be surprised to know that alcohol licensing law has existed for over 500 years. The first incarnation of the alcohol licensing law was strangely enough intended to stop indoor games being played in pubs! The games were seen as a distraction from archery which was seen as an activity necessary for defence of the country. Later revision of the law sought to preserve public order.

Licensing of alcohol today

As the need for accomplished archers is much less nowadays, modern licensing law exists much more to stop the sale of alcohol to minors, prevent public disorder and crime. Not only must the premises where the sale of alcohol is taking place from be licensed, but there must also be a Designated Premises Supervisor ("DPS") The DPS must have their own personal licence and would normally be the person involved in the day-to-day running of the sale of alcohol and will be a point of contact for the police and the council.

 Entertainment Licensing Law

A wide range of entertainments are regulated by UK licensing law including theatrical performances, music, concerts, dancing, sporting events, film exhibitions and cinema.

Early versions of UK entertainment licensing law existed in order to preserve and uphold public morality, with any attempt to control public disorder secondary to this but the principles for the need for entertainment licensing and regulation have evolved over time.

Apart from a few exceptions, you will need an entertainment licence if you are planning to provide forms of public entertainment to an audience in your premises such as:

  • live music performance,
  • playing of pre-recorded music
  • exhibition of a film
  • a boxing or wrestling event
  • an indoor sporting event
  • dance performance
  • performance of a play

A licence is needed if any facilities for entertainment are provided for members of the public, members of a club or if entertainment is provided with the intention of making a profit.

 Late Night Refreshment Services Licensing

Late night refreshment services are a licensable activity under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003.

The definition of late night refreshment services are a business selling hot food or hot drink between 11pm and 5am. A licence for late night refreshment services is most often required by takeaways and late night cafes (including mobile cafes; burger vans, hot dog stands and the like)

There are exemptions to the requirement for a licence with two examples being staff canteens and premises selling food which can be consumed straight away in an all night grocery shop. Several other exemptions exist.

How BRM Solicitors can help you with Licensing Law

We have vast experience in helping businesses and individuals with licensing law. BRM regularly provide advice on licensing law to many prominent local businesses and individuals for one-off events through to opening large licensed venues. This includes initial applications, transferring licences or appealing any decisions at the Magistrate's Court or in front of the Licensing Committee.

Dealing with pub licensing law and nightclub licensing law are common tasks for us, so whatever issues you have, our licensing solicitors can help.