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Farrer & Co | Licensing Act 2003 - Hints & Tips

The Licensing Act requires that the sale of alcohol, performance of plays, films, live or recorded music, indoor sports, boxing and wrestling, and the sale of hot food or drink after 11pm must be authorised by the local council.

An application for a new Premises Licence can take up to four months depending on its complexity, especially if a hearing is involved. Once an application is submitted there is a 28 day consultation period. If no objections are received then the local authority is obliged to grant the application - if there are, a hearing has to be held.

We are experienced in dealing with such applications, particularly for museums, galleries and hotels and below are some factors to consider when making an application.

1. Planning is everything

Before submitting an application consider the licensing objectives – the operating schedule must show how nuisance, crime and disorder will be prevented, children will be protected from harm and how public safety will be achieved.

2. Make friends with your local authority

Start talking to your local council as soon as possible. Discuss what you are planning to do so that they can highlight any problems to you.

3. Stick to the rules

The Licensing Act 2003 has strict requirements – for example, using the wrong typeface on a public notice may lead to an application being rejected. Check the requirements so an application will not be rejected on technical grounds.

4. Keep in with the neighbours

If you know who your local residents associations are, contact them in advance of making an application and explain your position to them. If concerns are raised consider how they will be addressed – noise is usually the number one complaint.

5. What can you offer?

You may be able to offer measures which will allay any concerns. If possible suggest conditions within your application. If an agreement can be reached a hearing may not be necessary.

6. Remember your Temporary Event Notice annual allocation

While waiting for your application for a new or varied Premises Licence you may be able to apply for Temporary Event Notices provided your annual allocation has not been used up. There are strict limits here and we can advise regarding the relevant considerations when applying for a Temporary Event Notice.

7. Check the name on your current Premises Licence (if you have one)

Company entities change from time to time. If an entity dissolves or changes its name a Licence will lapse. If you realise in time it is possible to transfer the Licence into another name. Otherwise, it will be necessary to start from scratch and apply for a new Premises Licence.

8.  Don't get caught out by the Late Night Levy

There are currently ten local authorities who have imposed the Late Night Levy with others expecting to follow. This annual fee may be applied to all licensed premises which sell alcohol between the hours of midnight and 6 am and is used to cover the cost of policing the Night Time Economy. You can apply to change the hours on your Premises Licence (without charge) to avoid the Levy. There are also some exemptions which a Council may consider

9. How else we can help

Apart from advising on the above, we can also advise in relation to large scale events such as music festivals, the requirements when applying to appoint a new Designated Premises Supervisor or how to apply for a Personal Licence.

If you require further information on anything covered in this briefing please contact Margaret Spice (margaret.spice@farrer.co.uk , 020 3375 7409) or your usual contact at the firm on 020 3375 7000.

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, July 2017

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