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Licensing news England and Wales - February 2019

This month in summary:

Licensing news:

Late Night Levies: Back on the radar

Following a quiet period, two councils have announced that they will consult on introducing the Late Night Levy.

Changes had been expected to the levy to make it more flexible for councils, such as permitting 'targeted' levies for specific areas within the council boundary but as of yet, such changes have not been introduced.

As such, the levy will apply to all premises licensed to sell alcohol within the council area that are not otherwise either exempted of fall outside of the levy period (usually between midnight and 6am).

London Borough of Southwark

Southwark have launched a consultation on the introduction of a Late Night Levy for premises selling alcohol after midnight.

The council is considering reductions for some small businesses, and/or for businesses in Business Improvement Districts where they are already subject to an additional levy due to their location.

The consultation runs from 25 February to 19 May 2019.

Further details can be found here 

London Borough of Redbridge

Redbridge is consulting on a levy on premises selling alcohol between midnight and 6am.

There is no proposal to provide exemptions, reductions or discounts except for hotels and guest houses, as long as the supply of alcohol was made to a person staying at the premises and was for consumption on the premises.

The consultation runs from 21 February to 21 May 2019.

The proposal is to introduce the levy from 1 October 2019. 

Further details can be found here 

Top Licensing Tip: Sunnier days ahead, how to make the most of the weather

With spring just around the corner, now is a good time to prepare for the more frequent use of gardens and outdoor spaces by customers. Here are a few pointers to think about before the sunshine comes:

Conditions on licences

Often overlooked, conditions placed on a premises licence can either restrict or prevent the use of an area by customers. Limits on the hours a garden can be used, or limits on the number of people permitted to stand on the pavement often feature on licences and breaching such conditions is a criminal offence. Consider seeking a variation to the licence to either remove or amend any such conditions in advance of summer.

Use of Live Music Act workplace exemption

Events in gardens or outdoor spaces often involve regulated entertainment and often Temporary Event Notices are used where there is no licence covering the area in question. However, if the only licensable activity being undertaken outside is the provision of live music, then you could make use of the 'workplace' exemption to provide live music between 8am and 11pm to an audience of 499 or fewer. This does not extend to any other regulated entertainment, such as recorded music. Also, using this exemption does not prevent the music causing a public nuisance if your neighbours are disturbed, so always seek to advise them in advance of any upcoming events and if in doubt, speak to your local licensing officer.

Bringing back the Morris Men

One firm of entertainment expressly exempt from requiring a premises licence is Morris dancing. As such, you don‘t need a licence for a performance of Morris dancing or dancing of a similar nature or for live or recorded music that is an integral part of that performance, even if they perform in an unlicensed area of your premises.

Mobile/outdoor bars

Increasingly popular in the summer are mobile bars that can be wheeled out into an outdoor space, saving customers the time and effort of going inside to buy drinks. However, if your outside space is not licensed, you will need to licence it before you can use such a bar. The same applies if you are looking to turn an outbuilding or shed into an outdoor summer bar. If your garden is already licensed for the sale of alcohol and you use a temporary bar that is moved into place and removed at the end of each day, it is arguable that there is no need to show this on the licensing plan. However, it is always advisable to check with your licensing officers before you use such a bar to ensure that they are happy a change to the licensing plan is not required. 

Use of pavements/pavement licences

As the weather heats up, customers will inevitably want to stand outside, often on pavements if there is no pub garden. Such areas are not licensed as they do not form part of your premises. However, you do not need to be licensed for off sales for customers to take their drinks outside. Always check your conditions do not prohibit customers taking drinks outside and also remember it is your responsibility to ensure that customers do not block the pavement.

If you want to put tables and chairs on the public highway, it is likely that you will need to have a licence from the local authority. It is an offence to put tables and chairs out if the council require a licence and so again, it is worth checking with the council in advance. Obtaining such licences can take some time, so it is worth looking now to make the most of the better weather, when it comes.

Gambling news:

Gambling Commission announce that licence conditions and codes of practice are to be updated as at 7 May 2019

In late 2018 the Commission consulted on proposals to strengthen the requirements for remote gambling operators to verify the age and identity of their customers.  As a result the undernoted changes will come into force on 07 May 2019 and all remote operators providing facilities for betting and gaming, and a small number of remote lotteries will need to update their policies and procedures.

Presently remote operators have been allowed 72 hours to verify the age of a newcustomer. This period of grace is being removed.  In addition age verification will be required prior to a customer being able to access free-to-play versions of games.

Changes to social responsibility code provisions will give effect to these changes requiring  remote operators to verify the age of any customer before the customer can:

  • deposit funds into an account
  • access any free-to-play games the licensee may make available, or
  • gamble with the licensee with either their own money or a free bet or bonus.

Identity verification is also being beefed up by a new licence condition that requires operators to verify the identity of their customers before allowing them to gamble. As a minimum operators will require the customer’s name, address and date of birth.

Gambling Commission tighten rules on submission of documents

Applicants are put on notice that the Commission has, forthwith, ceased to accept incomplete applications to vary Operating Licences.

From the beginning of February 2019 the Commission have declared that it will not accept incomplete variation application.  All applications must be in full without exceptions.

The Commissions website has been updated to make clear what constitutes a complete application and a new checklist will be available to help applicants be sure they are compliant.

Out and about

Hearings and meetings have been keeping the team out and about over the last weeks. We have ventured as far north as Wakefield, west as far as Torquay and south as far as Southampton, with various points in between. A contested Temporary Event Notice hearing in Bristol centred on the question of whether concerns about the person giving the notice, rather than any concerns about the nature of the event itself, was enough for the committee to issue a counter-notice and prevent the event taking place. The committee in this case found that the police concerns raised nothing that would require them to stop the event taking place. This is a fair decision in the circumstances where 'light touch' legislation has been introduced to allow events to happen without the need for a licence.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at February 2019. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions

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