Licensing

Licensing expertise you can rely on

We provide clients with pragmatic and no-nonsense legal advice on the complex area of alcohol and entertainment licensing law. 

Our licensing lawyers recognise that licensing law is a frequently changing and challenging environment for both new businesses and existing operators.  We help licensed operators navigate their way through local licensing authorities’ individual policies and procedures to achieve the best results.

We also have an in-house planning team to provide an integrated approach to meet all licensing requirements.

What our licensing lawyers do   

We will collaborate with you to understand your business needs and work with you as a partner, whether you have an established business or are a new operator. Our lawyers can provide expert insight and advice on: 

New Premises Licence Applications 

Despite well-meaning government and local authority guidance to be found online, a new premises licence application is still easy to get wrong, and difficult to put right.   Our licensing lawyers have many years of experience in dealing with:
  • deadline requirements 
  • notice periods
  • statutory advertisement timings 
  • local authority policy and procedures 
  • the operating schedule
  • responsible authorities, and 
  • objectors. 
We guide you through all requirements including cumulative impact (“stress areas”), the licensing objectives and different policies adopted by your local authority.  

Our expert licensing lawyers take the time to engage with each local authority and responsible authorities (such as the police and licensing team) to ensure that your application has the best possible outcome.
 
We can also pick up and run with a “less than perfect” application that has already been submitted, managing the application process and representing you at any licensing committee hearing. 

Variation of a premises licence 

Most changes to premises licences call for a variation application.  

Such changes include: 
  • Changing the hours during which a licensable activity is permitted. 
  • Changing, adding or removing conditions on a licence.  
  • Alterations to the licensed premises such as changing the configuration and layout of the premises so as to increase the area in which alcohol can be consumed;  
  • Adding the sale of alcohol or another licensable activity to a premises licence and
  • Increasing the amount of time during a day or night that alcohol may be sold. 
An application to vary your premises licence is as complex as applying for a new premises licence, unless you are able to apply for a minor variation application.

Our licensing lawyers are able to advise on all of the necessary steps to take, submit an application on your behalf, deal with objections and represent you at any committee hearing.  

Minor Variation Applications

A minor variation is any change to a premises licence that does not undermine the licensing objectives and is a “low impact” change. 
 
The decision on whether a variation is low impact enough to warrant only a minor variation application, lies with the Licensing Officer at your local authority. The test is subjective and different licensing authorities can have different views on this.

There is a fast-track process for making minor variation applications.  We can advise you on which variation application to make. If you are unsure which type of variation application to make please contact our licensing team for advice.

Temporary Events Notices 

 A temporary event notice (TEN) is used to hold one-off events at premises which do not have a premises licence (or a club premises licence). 
 
TENs can also be used to temporarily extend hours or change activities permitted by a premises licence. 
 
The application process itself is not complicated, but all of the details in an application needs to be correct. There can be serious financial and practical consequences of a failed application, if an event has to be cancelled, or postponed.  
 
Our experienced licensing lawyers can make the application on your behalf and navigate through all time limits, rules and requirements. 

Club Premises Certificates 

Limited membership of clubs means that qualifying clubs with club premises certificates have less regulation than those with premises licences.  

For example, there is no need for a designated premises supervisor.  However, club premises certificates are more restrictive. 

Due to the fact that there are more limitations placed upon club premises certificates, we give expert guidance to help you decide on whether you should apply for a premises licence or the more restrictive club premises certificate.

Appeals 

If you are unhappy with the decision of the licensing authority an appeal can be made to the Magistrates Court, whose decision is final.  
 
Time is of the essence because there are only 21 days in which to lodge the appeal.  
 
Our licensing lawyers have been successful on many appeals and can give you the best possible chance of success.  

Residents Objections to a Licensing Application 

Residents and businesses are able to comment on some licensing applications. This is known as “making a representation” under the Licensing Act 2003. 

If you wish to formally object to a licensing application, any objection must be in writing and be received before the relevant consultation period ends. You must include your name and address and detailed reasons for your objection. 

Your representation must be based on one or more of the four licensing objectives, otherwise it will be disregarded.  Your representation must not be frivolous, vexatious or repetitious.

You may wish to contact us first to discuss any concerns you may have about an application, so that we can provide advice on your options. 

Review of Premises Licence 

Running any kind of licensed premises can be a challenge and, sometimes, things can go wrong for even the most organised of operators. 

Your premises licence may be reviewed due to breaches such as noise or litter nuisance, a failed trading standard test purchase, or after one or more reports of incidents involving alcohol-related disorder. 

In these situations, complaints could be raised to the licensing team and enforcement action could be taken by the local licensing authority.  This can result in matters escalating to a formal review application being lodged. 

If this happens, it is vital that you speak to our licensing experts early on, as it may be possible that a review can be dispensed with, without going before a licensing committee. This can be done by negotiating on additional conditions in the Premises Licence.  We offer advice to avoid conditions being imposed which are unrealistic and make your business untenable in the long run. 

In the event that a licensing sub-committee hearing is unavoidable, our licensing team can represent you to put your case forward the committee, and achieve the best possible outcome. 

Prosecutions

Having a premises licence brings numerous duties and responsibilities. Operating outside of the premises licence conditions. Breach of a licensing condition can amount to a criminal offence. 
 
A prosecution carries with it the possibility of an unlimited fine (even a prison sentence or up to six months for some offences, albeit imprisonment is rare). A successful prosecution also means a criminal record for the designated premises supervisor, not to mention a damaging effect on the business.  

Examples of a breach of a premises licence that could lead to a criminal prosecution include:
  • Selling alcohol outside the permitted hours 
  • Breach of any condition stated on the premises licence
  • Allowing entertainment, without the relevant permission
  • Persistently selling alcohol to children
  • Selling hot food or hot drinks later than permitted by the licence
Often, the first you will know of any intended prosecution is an invite to attend an interview under caution, at your local police station.  
 
 You should contact us as soon as possible if you are facing a prosecution. Prompt and clear-sighted decisions at this stage can give you the greatest prospect of success.

Pavement Licences 

Tables and chairs on the pavement (public highway) outside licensed premises usually need various permissions in place first. 

Not only might you require planning consent, but you may also need a tables and chairs licence (also known as a pavement licence).  

Planning consent

An application for planning consent will require various plans and might be contentious, if, for example, the area in question is used by pedestrians and would become more limited due to your outside seating.

It is also common for residents to be concerned about the possibility of increased noise and litter. 

Pavement licences

A pavement licence is a permission from the Highways Department to place tables and chairs on the public highway. Each local authority has its own application procedure and detail to follow. Grant of a pavement licence is entirely discretionary. Usually a pavement licence, if granted, only lasts for 12 months and needs to be renewed. 
 
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