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Licensing news England and Wales - July 2016

What's been happening in the licensing community in England and Wales this month?

Alcohol & entertainment licensing news

Gambling news

Other Licensing news

Lords Licensing Committee to review Licensing Act 2003: 14 questions posed

Following the announcement at the end of May that a House of Lords Committee has been established to look at and report on the Licensing Act 2003, the committee has published 14 questions it is seeking views on. 

The committee remit is wide and it is seeking the broadest range of views it can on a host of subjects, including the philosophy behind the Licensing Act, as well as more technical questions. The committee will then make recommendations as to how effective the Act is and whether it is 'fit for purpose'. We expect a large number of different organisations to respond, including trade bodies such as the BII and the Institute of Licensing as well as the Licensing Authorities, Police Constabularies and special interest groups, such as the health lobby. It is essential therefore that the committee hear from the widest possible range of different organisations in order to ensure that there is a balance to the evidence that they consider. 

The questions posed are designed to review and consider even the most fundamental aspects of premises licensing. For instance, comments are being sought on whether the current four licensing objectives are appropriate or not and whether others should be added, health being an obvious example. There are also sections that relate to local strategy, fee paying, application procedure and consumption of alcohol at home, amongst others.

Whilst a select committee can only make recommendations, such committees are often the driver for change in Government policy. The Licensing Act 2003 traces its routes to a similar select committee report. 

Any written submissions must be made by 2 September, with the Committee due to report by 31 March 2017. The committee page and questions can be found at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/licensing-act-2003/


Law change clarifies position on showing Premier League football in pubs

Changes to copyright law, which came into effect on 15 June, have simplified the previously confusing picture in relation to showing Premier League football in pubs. 

Before the changes, sellers of boxes had argued that so long as logos, music and graphics were not shown, there was no breach of the Premier League's copyright- often going to extreme lengths in order to distort such logos etc and therefore claim that there was no breach. 

Section 72 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 has been amended to ensure that pubs showing Premier League football matches without the correct agreement with Sky or BT Sport are breaching Premier League copyright whether or not the logo's, music etc can be seen or heard. 

Providers of boxes that blur logos have previously been prosecuted and at least two have faced prison sentences, with many pubs showing the Premier League matches on such boxes receiving hefty fines. However, the clarity brought by the change will hopefully ensure this confusion is now put to rest.   

Gambling Commission consulting on fee changes for operating licence holders

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Gambling Commission (GC) have published a joint consultation on proposed changes to fees for operating licence holders. The consultation can be found at:

http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/pdf/Consultations/Proposals-for-Gambling-Commission-Fees-from-April-2017.pdf

The proposals in this consultation include changes designed to:

  • take account of the significant changes to the GC costs and income following the implementation of the Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act 2014;
  • reflect the efficiencies the GC have achieved in our expenditure, and would reduce the overall fee burden across the industry by an estimated 10%;
  • ensure that the GC's costs continue to be recovered on a proportionate basis from different types and sizes of operator; and
  • address other issues identified in the current fees structure. 

The consultation also proposes some important modifications to the fees structure, including;

  • the replacement of ‘number of premises’ with gross gambling yield (GGY) as the basis for fee categories across a number of licences;
  • the sub-division of various fee categories into smaller categories to ensure that our costs are recovered through fees on a fairer basis; and
  • the re-alignment of cost recovery more proportionately in relation to GGY. 

The GC expect the proposals to mean fee reductions for around 1,900 operators while fees would be held at their current levels for around 1,000 operators, and fewer than 100 would be subject to an increase in fees.

It is expected that the changes to fees will be put in place in April 2017. 

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 9 September 2016 

Focus on gaming machines in pubs highlights operational weaknesses

A recent exercise undertaken by Bracknell Council, where under 18's were sent into pubs, purchased a soft drink and then played the fruit machines as part of a 'test purchase' operation has highlighted that supervision of machines may be lacking. In all seven pubs tested the under 18's were not stopped from playing the jackpot machines ('category C' machines) as they should have been. All premises tested held the relevant permit to have the machines and therefore the exercise was undertaken to look at compliance with the rules relating to the supervision of the machines by staff, rather than premises illegally having machines. 

To make matters worse, the council wrote to all the pubs beforehand, warning them that such an operation would be undertaken. 

It is illegal to permit under 18's to play Category C jackpot machines on your premises and any premises that has such machines must adhere to the Gambling Commission's code of practice for gaming machines in premises with an alcohol licence. 

The full code of practice can be found at:

http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/pdf/code-of-practice-for-gaming-machines-in-clubs-and-premises-with-an-alcohol-licence.pdf

However, the code requires, amongst other things, that:

Permit holders should put into effect procedures intended to prevent underage gambling. This should include procedures for: 

  • checking the age of those who appear underage; and
  • refusing entry to anyone unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. 

Permit holders should take all reasonable steps to ensure that all relevant employees understand their responsibilities for preventing underage gambling. 

Permit holders should only accept identification which: 

  • contains a photograph from which the individual can be identified;
  • states the individual’s date of birth;
  • is valid; and
  • is legible and has no visible signs of tampering or reproduction. 

The Commission considers acceptable forms of identification to include: any identification carrying the PASS logo (for example Citizencard or Validate); a driving licence (including provisional licence) with photocard; or a passport. 

In light of this, it is worth revisiting procedures and training if you have gaming machines at your premises to ensure that the machines are being properly supervised. 

Out and about

June and early July produced its fair share of sporting triumphs (and disasters), but little to write home about in terms of any summer sunshine. However, this month has had its fair share of high-profile hearings, including major UK festival licence applications, summary reviews and other contested applications.

Of particular interest this month were a number of festival applications, all of them facing objections from various parties. Because of the scale of the events, each application had its own unique technical issues that required consideration. Festivals, by their very nature, present a different set of problems for applicants- from logistical issues in getting artists, festival goers, concessions and staff onto and off-site- to the likely noise disturbance from live music outside. However, on the plus side, the fact that they last only a matter of days, compared with the problems applicants have for 24/7 businesses allows the 'benefits' to be contrasted with the limited 'risks' often complained about. 

Certainly, the licensing committee in each application was asked to consider a number of factors that often are glossed over, including the benefits for tourism and local businesses, to be weighed up against the concerns of those likely to suffer noise and traffic nuisance. All the applications were granted and we wish the organisers all the best with their events.  

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at 27 July 2016. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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