Licensing

The Licensing Act regulates four activities: the sale of alcohol; the supply of alcohol, (for example, in a members’ club); regulated entertainment, such as live performances and; the provision of hot food or drink to the public after 11pm.
This Act aims to prevent crime and disorder and public nuisance and protect children and the wider public from harm.

The Government remains committed to tackling alcohol-related crime & anti-social behaviour. We are currently bringing forward proposals in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill to rebalance the Licensing Act so that local communities and the police can address problems effectively, particularly late at night. Aside from the reforms set out in the Bill, we welcome your comments on any other aspects of the Licensing Act which could be made less burdensome.

You can find all the regulations that relate to licensing below to the left.

Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

Creates a new offence of persistently selling alcohol to children and gave courts additional powers to deal with this where it occurs.

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

Licensing Act 2003

The Licensing Act came into force in November 2005 and applies in England and Wales. It regulates four ‘licensable activities’:

  • the sale by retail of alcohol;
  • the supply of alcohol (i.e., in a members’ club);
  • the provision of regulated entertainment, and;
  • the provision of late night refreshment (i.e., after 11pm).

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

The Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010

Adds new mandatory conditions to premises licences that authorise the sale and supply of alcohol. These conditions are designed to: prohibit irresponsible promotions; require that a “responsible person” ensures that alcohol is not dispensed directly into the mouth; require that free tap water is provided to customers where it is reasonably available; and require that an age verification policy is in place in respect of the premises.”

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

The Licensing Act 2003 (Summary Review of Premises Licences) Regulations 2007

Under s.53A of the Act, a Chief Officer of police may apply for a summary review of a premises licence if the premises is associated with serious crime or disorder. This regulation sets out the detailed requirements of this process.

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

The Licensing Act 2003 (Permitted Temporary Activities) (Notices) Regulations 2005

Temporary Event Notices (TENs) enable licensable activities to be carried out on an occasional basis for short periods. This regulation sets out the form of a TEN and various other details about the current process

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

The Licensing Act 2003 (Fees) Regulations 2005

The 2003 Act gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations prescribing the amount of the fees payable to licensing authorities by a person making an application or giving a notice under the 2003 Act.

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

The Licensing Act 2003 (Hearings) Regulations 2005

Sets out the details of the procedure to be followed at hearings including details of the timescales within which it must occur. Hearings result from a number of processes in the Act, representations from bodies such as the police, or from a member of the public such as a concerned local resident.

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

The Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005

Sets out a large number of details about the process under the Act. For example, it sets out the form of a premises licence, of the ‘blue notices’ that must be displayed when applications have been made, and of the notice of review that must be issued by the licensing authority if there is to be a review of a premises licence.

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

The Licensing Act 2003 (Personal licences) Regulations 2005

If a premises licence authorises the sale of alcohol, there are mandatory conditions that there must a “Designated Premises Supervisor” in respect of that premises, and that this person must hold a personal licence; and that every sale of alcohol under the licence must be made or authorised by someone who holds a personal licence. This regulation stipulates a number of details about applications for personal licences, including the form on which the application must be made.

Domestic regulation

Read More… (opens in a new window)

Tell us what you think should happen to these regulations and why, being specific where possible:

183 responses to Licensing

  • Clifford Evans said on May 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Do away with it altogether, Pubs and clubs are shutting at an alarming level, and not in many cases re opening. Local authorities have used this legislation over the years as a revenue making scheme, regardles of how it affects the venue. Some venues that already meet health and safety legislation have been made to install extra fire systems, made to employ bouncers, simply because the venue wishes to put on live music. As a performer I am sick of being tarred with the brush of inciting trouble in venues. More often than not the musician spot trouble and infrom the relevent people before anybody else. Pubs that put on large screen football matches and have drinkers clogging up doorways and in many cases overflow onto the street do not get the hassel from local authorities that live music venues get. Please please get it right and stop stiefeling live entertainment in this country.

    • Mike Cope said on May 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

      Hear! Hear! I heartily agree Sir….

  • Louise McMullan said on May 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Equity is the trade union representing 37,000 actors, performers and other creative professionals working in the UK. This includes many thousands of individuals who work in forms of live entertainment covered by the Licensing Act 2003, such as singers, variety artists, circus performers and performers in theatres.

    For this reason we have followed the development and implementation of the Act very closely. Equity was one of the key stakeholders that provided input to Government before and during the parliamentary process. We have also has worked with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as well as Arts Council England, local authorities and industry bodies on appropriate licensing rules and guidance.

    We remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment in the Licensing Act 2003 is not necessary and has greatly increased bureaucracy for very little benefit to the licensing objectives. However, we are committed to working with Government to ensure that the Act meets the interests of performers as best as possible.

    Since the new licensing regime came into force in November 2005 performers, and especially those working as variety artists, have raised major concerns about the negative impact the Act has had on their working lives and have called for important changes to the regulations. The Act includes all forms of “regulated entertainment”, which apart from live music, covers everything from theatre and circus performances, to street performances and Punch and Judy shows.

    Consequently many forms of travelling entertainment that did not previously require a licence are now caught by the legislation. Circuses have to get a separate licence for every single new site they go to – which can be as many as 40 each season. They also have problems if a site becomes unavailable at the last minute, as alternative sites will not ordinarily have a licence and it takes at least a further 28 days to arrange one.

    Equity believes that the DCMS should explore the possibility of an exemption for entertainment of this type, or at least explore simpler ways of licensing entertainment that does not take place in fixed premises. This may include consideration of allowing travelling entertainment to operate under an annual licence, providing them with greater freedom to perform on a basis agreed with local authorities.

    In 2009 the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s Report into the Licensing Act contained a number of proposals which would have lifted some significant barriers to work faced by entertainers. The Report recommended the creation of portable licenses for travelling entertainment and circuses which would reduce the need for multiple applications and would provide greater freedom to perform on a basis agreed with local authorities. Equity supported these recommendations.

    The Report also recommended that simplification of the Licensing Act is necessary in order to reduce bureaucracy and better meet the licensing objectives. The Committee also stated that better consistency between local authorities would aid travelling performers.

    The Government will be aware that many pubs, clubs and live music venues have failed to survive the economic downturn. Equity believes that the restrictions brought about by the provisions of the Licensing Act, particularly the cumbersome bureaucracy of the licensing regime for live entertainment, serve to exacerbate the situation and contribute to the loss of these venues. As a result young musicians and performers are finding it increasingly difficult to find small gigs that will allow them to kick-start their careers.

    Figures released by DCMS in January 2010 demonstrate that while the number of licences for the provision of live music has increased, there has been a fall in the proportion of the adult population who attend music at smaller venues. The same research also notes the decline in overall numbers of small venues such as pubs and bars and the growth in live concerts at larger venues.

    We believe that an exemption for small venues would encourage many venues to put on live music once more. The previous Government consulted on an exemption for small venues with a capacity of under 100 however we believe that any exemption should stand at venues with fewer than 200 in attendance. It is our understanding that there are a limited number of venues with a capacity of less than 100 in existence and for this reason we support the proposals outlined in Lord Clement-Jones’ Live Music Bill which states that an exemption should take place when ‘the live music entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons’.

    There has been support for an exemption for live music venues with an audience of up to 200 for some time. The 2009 Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in to the Licensing Act 2003 found that ‘something more needs to be done to try to make it easier for smaller and secondary venues to host live music performance, but a balance also needs to be struck between this and ensuring that the four licensing objectives are fulfilled’. The report recommended that the Government should exempt venues with a capacity of 200 persons or fewer from the need to obtain a licence (paragraph 92).

    The Coalition Government’s Programme for Government published in May 2010 stated that ‘we will cut red tape to encourage the performance of live music’. Further to this in a Written Parliamentary Answer the Licensing Minister, John Penrose, responded on 31st January 2011 that ‘the Government are currently considering options to remove red tape from live music and other entertainment. I hope to be able to announce our conclusions, including the timetable for reform, shortly [36350]’. Further to this, the Government’s Plan for Growth, published on 23rd March 2011 included a commitment to “take action through legislation to reduce the licensing burden for live music performance”.

    We are encouraged by the Government’s positive and constructive engagement with performers’ groups on this issue however we would stress that proposals to improve the regulation of live entertainment should be made public as soon as possible. In the absence of a proposal we believe that the Government should support the passage of the Live Music Bill as a first step.

    • Susan Hick said on May 13, 2011 at 4:08 am

      As the owner of a small country pub wanting to put on live music on occasional weekends i completely agree with you. Good luck in your work! Sue

    • Tom Pegg said on May 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      I’d also like to add my support to these comments.

      I’m the owner of a small bar in mixed residential/commercial area of central London (who is also a resident in the same neighbourhood).

      Although our venue is very well suited to it with nothing similar in the area, we have the same issues in regards to being able to put on live entertainment.

      It goes without saying that the needs of residents and the local community needs to be considered, but it does feel like the balance of power is unfairly weighted against licensees.

      Of course, if the management of a venue consistently cause nuisance and show disregard for the community, public safety, etc, then there must be processes for penalising them or closing the venue.

      It is especially difficult for small independent venues to thrive with all the red tape and blanket legislation, which applies the same rules to venues of a capacity of 50 to those of many thousands. I’m sure a little flexibility and support would encourage more venues to bring back live entertainment and may help curb the closure of yet more pubs and bars – both inner city and countryside.

  • Fiona Lockyer said on May 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Our local council (Birmingham) apply a licence to cover massage &/or special treatment. Fine to ensure businesses are legitimate, however when it means by having a steam room & sauna within a leisure club, and costing me over 300 pa to be renewed,it is taking it out of its intended use. The costs escalate dependent on the number of services offered, and duplicate health & safety regulation requirements by requireing copies of electrical certification. The paperwork to complete the application is onerous and usually rejected several times before satisfying the official. The licence duplicates other legislative requirements and should be scrapped.

  • Liz said on May 11, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Alcohol -
    Less focus on pubs and clubs. More focus on supermarkets, off licences and corner shops. In the city where I live people pre-load with alcohol at home with friends and come into town after 10, they literally fall out of taxi’s drunk when they arrived in town.
    Supermarkets should not be allowed to place alcohol right in the entrance of their supermarket or mixed in with other items.
    Have a limit on number of retailers allowed to sell aclohol in an area/population size as they do abroad.
    The ease at which alcohol is available day or night does not help those who are recovering from hazardous drinking neither does it help the rest of us who are on the borderline of drinking hazardously and need to cut down.

    • Adam Fahn said on May 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      Well said

    • sharon chittock said on May 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      Very true.

  • Edward McConville said on May 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

    There is clearly an issue somwhere alomg the line and pubs are closing all over the country at a very fast rate. This has been going on since before the recession. Pubs are quiet so more people avoid them and it is a viscious circle. After reading some of the comments it seems that small business are suffering while again the big companies are getting away with everything and getting bigger and bigger.

  • Tony Bartlett said on May 10, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Licensing is about control. Prohibition causes chaos as does a total free for all. Licensing works. The problem with the drafting of this Act was that Government got too close with the supermarkets and large pubcos and virtually let them set the agenda. Most licensees are hardworking but there is a minority who cause problems and they need to be regulated as do the off licences and supermarkets where cheap alcohol is sold as a loss leader. This then gets into the hands of the youth who are more likely to cause problems.

    The majority of reviews are called either for noise related issues or underage sales. Removing the vicinity rule will increase such reviews. Bring all of the Licensing Act under the Home Office. There is a need to keep regulated entertainment controlled but with a degree of flexibility by licensing authorities. TENs need to be granted rather than given but the number derestricted.

  • Michael earce said on May 10, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Instead of treating everything with a knee jerk reaction, time should be spent on establishing the best way forward instead of rushing in statutory legislation that quite frankly the majority of time is not fit for purpose. DPS’s should be retrained at least evry 5 years, and all staff selling alcohol should be licensed! Any person under 21 should have to rpoduce Identification for alcohol sale purchases.

    • Robert Feal-Martinez said on May 13, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Michael clearly you are either a trainer or not in the license trade. The Industry is awash with training, regulations, Best Bar None, Responsible Alcohol Retailing schemes, Drinkaware ( the ASH of the Alcohol Industry).

      We are without doubt the most regulated sector of Industry, the problem is little of it contains a certain element called ‘common sense’. None of it makes the ‘drinker’ responsible for their own actions.

      Licensees are expected to be policeman, social workers, health care professionals, baby sitters and much more. All I wanted to be 27 years ago was a PUBLICAN.

  • Robert Feal-Martinez said on May 10, 2011 at 7:15 am

    The Licensing Act in it’s current form was never what the vast majority of pubs wanted. It has become a nightmare with ever changing rules and regulations. It has become the ‘moaners’ charter. Extending the rights of Councillors and residents is exactly what we feared would happen.

    All we wanted was a relaxation in hours to enable us to stay open one or two hours on a Friday/Saturday night. Had this been done there would not be a problem in towns as there is now.

  • Paul Arnold said on May 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I am a Taxi Licensing Officer for a Local Authority. Time and time again we are frustrated by the outdated legislation and regulations which seem to be a bar to the effective discharge of our functions.The Localised nature of the discharge of the legislation also leads to inconsistent application due to differing Local perspectives and decisions.

  • michael said on May 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Going through the whole act and assessing each paragraph requires more effort than most individuals can manage. As a licensee, overall I feel that the licensing act as it stands is sufficient although it could be simplified. The major issue is not the act but the implementation of the act. Penalties need to be tougher for those who breach the act and the willingness to prosecute needs to be focused on all licensees especially in the “off license” trade.

    I agree with the other respondents in that the majority of the issues relating to irresponsible drinking resides with the provision of alcohol “off premise” and in particular with the supermarkets. The general approach taken by the supermarkets of selling heavily discounted product could easily be interpreted as falling foul of the act if there was any desire to enforce responsible behaviour.

    The act also needs to consider vexatious behaviour from residents. Almost every licensed premise has a resident neighbour who consistently complains despite there being no reasonable evidence of a problem. The act should protect businesses as well as residents and should strike a healthy balance. It is not right that a single individual should hold such power over a business and its customers. It might be useful to have a complaint filing fee which would be refunded if the complaint was found to be valid.

  • Geoff Russell said on May 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I have been a licensee or whatever title we now have since 93 so had a lomg experience of the old system run by the magistrates courts – it was imperfect but more cost effective and the involvement of the courts rather than councils gave it a gravitas that did help to make regualtions and desicions respected.
    The necessity to make changes to the building that had been licensed (under the old regime) for 40 years cost £8000 – get it done or go out of business. The license fee as stated elsewhere was £30 for three years – now £180 a year, the requirement to obtain a personal license has not deictly affected me as mine came as ‘grandfather’ rights but now with the requirement to get a seperate CRB check can cost £250 and take months.
    I am all for keeping the cowboys and ‘sharp’ operators out of licensed premesis and on the whole, the industry is well managed, run to the benefit of the local community and has to accept that causing problems locally will have consequences. That applies to licensed permesis where alcohol in consumed under the supervision of the seller.
    Off licenses (as they used to be called) have no control over by whom, and how the products they sell are consumed yet seem to be exempted from all legislation that comes from on high. If we discount heavily we could be accused of an irresposible promotion yet go into any supermarket and you can get cases of alcohol for a lot less than we buy it from the breweries for. Who consumes this? If we see a couple with two children and the adult asks for three acoholic drinks we are obliged to challenge the adult as to ‘Who will be consuming the third’?
    Supermarkets sell cases of heavily subsidised booze to adults and have no idea or control over who is consuming them.
    How could this be controlled? There is only one way I see to reduce the prevalance of cheap and freely available alcohol and that is to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol. This has been suggested before and been submerged under the outcry from both the Supermarkets who use it shamelessly to get people into their outlets and the buyers who object to the one legal drug that allows them to forget their troubles for a while being priced out of their reach?
    My suggestion for those that have the power to do this sort of thing is to replace all the daft suggestions that will penalise the responsible sellers and introduce a 50p per unit minimum charge – making it illegal to give it away with another product (which is the first thing the supermarkets would then do) and if a supermarket sells to a minor, take the chains license away for a while not just the outlets (if that has ever happened)?
    I don’t expect this to be a popular solution but has anyone got a better one?

  • David Kelham said on May 7, 2011 at 9:08 am

    The supermarkets and the corner shop are turning us into a nation of alchohol depdendent zombies. The profusion of licenses is appalling. In contrast the pursuit of publicans who provide a supervised social environmnet for consumption is promoting the park bench and couch consumption. There should be much greater restriction of alcohol availability and the pricing shpuld be taken seriously.

  • Chris Trace said on May 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    As a licencee of 6 years plus I was under the magistrates originally and saw the change to council licensing. This came with reduced understanding of small business problems, inexorbitantly increased costs relating to the new licensing and greater powers given to the public to impede the sensible running of local public houses. In particular local businesses in my area have sufferred from the smoking ban forcing drinkers outdoors with the added problem of loud voices etc outside. Complaints from neighbours has led in one instance to severe restrctions on opening for one local business.

    Unfortunately the current statutory powers allowed to residents far outweigh the Public Houses ability to combat such situations. It should be borne in mind that Public Houses have existed in many cases in the same place for a very long time(100,200,300 years…for example) and there should not be instant or unfair rights given to residents whom buy properties next to or near a Public House that then complain about all kind of issues to the local Authority. If you don’t appreciate the events in pubs and action of customers entering and leaving public houses then why buy such properties in the first place?

    There is no weight given to this point in statutory powers for residents, can we have some logical, sensible and fair rules set up please to even up the playing field for struggling Licencees.

  • Tim Keen said on May 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    If the public and politicians want Licensing Authorities to exercise some proper control over the alcohol industry they should give Licensing Authority Officers proper powers, i.e. the power (as a constable has to enter premises at any time they are open to investigate or obtain evidence of offences.
    The annual fee was introduced for a reason, to enable proper supervision of the premises, the holder and the licensable activities. To ensue these tasks are able to be done, give the licensing authorities the power for their officers to suspend a licence whose annual fee has not been paid or where the holder is not exercising proper control of the premises.
    The supension could be lifted when a) the fee is paid or where b) a hearing is held within 48 hours.
    In this way the public would be able to see ‘proper enforcement, rouge outlets would have to operate more carefully and the trade would get value for the licence fees.

    • Mark said on May 10, 2011 at 8:09 am

      The police always could enter problem premises and things worked fine back then. The annual fee has just allowed the authorities to vastly increase the number of rules and spend their time and our money enforcing them. It is in their interest to eliminate problems which is fair enough, but sometimes they go to far and impose conditions which are to strict and overbearing for the nuisance that they are trying to stop.
      Many of the conditions are box ticking exercises, such as signs asking people to be quiet when leaving, do nothing for most people and often increase the problem as after a dew drinks people sometimes see this as a game and make more noise. It simply makes them aware that they can annoy someone and that is all it takes.
      Since the new regulations I would hardly say that there has been a massive decrease in drink related problems, definitely not proportional to the increased bureaucracy. If there has been a reduction, then is is most likely caused by less pubs being able to stay in business, but then this may have been the point.

    • Ian said on May 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      The licensing system was heavily suubsidised by Central Government when the Magistrates Court’s ran it. Current fees refelct what it cost at that time and are less than cost recovery now. Most of the regulatory changes are introduced by Central Government.

  • Anne Strobel said on May 6, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Alcohol Licence.
    Before the new regulations which came into place 6 years ago, our licence had to be renewed every three years at a cost of £30 (£10 per annum). Now the fee must be paid annually at a cost of £180 per annum. We only purchase for resale about £700 worth of alcohol. I am objecting to the cost of the license and why does it need to be renewed anually? Can this process be eliminated in favour of a one-off charge and licences only come under scrutiny where there are issues with the landlord or the behaviour of the drinkers if its a nuisance to the public? The council can eliminate the whole job of sending out renewals and chasing payment and we won;t have to pay such an disproportionate amount in relation to the sales of alcohol whic we generate.

    • Susan Hick said on May 13, 2011 at 4:19 am

      I agree Anne, it is just getting more money out of small businesses and could prove the tipping point in these hard economic times.
      Sue

  • Mick said on May 6, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Penalties for establishments (including retail) who sell alcohol to under age drinkers need to be more tough with more regular test purchasing undertaken. Currently offenders are given too many warnings & fines are too small. First offences should bring fines in the £1000′s and subsequent failures should bring an increasing length of ban on selling alcohol. The punishments must be severe to reflect the severity of the problems caused by sale of alcohol to underage drinkers.

    • Marc Allinson said on May 10, 2011 at 7:57 am

      That is true of city center bars, clubs and busy locals, however I do think that it should be relaxed when it comes to country pubs and small community locals. “Turning a blind eye” to a 16/17 year old having a crafty half with their dad in the evening will instill in them the correct way to drink in polite company unlike the current rules whereby you hit 18 and the floodgates for this magic happy juice are opened and you go out with your friends and get wasted because that is fun and all you know.
      Yes this is hard for the government to regulate, but that is the point, allow the licensee a little leeway and common sense on this. In almost all cases they don’t let groups of underagers in, they wont let them get noisy and they wont be getting hammered, yet they learn the social side. And those who would allow this to become a problem, would allow it now anyway even without a change in rules.

  • IAN GUNN said on May 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

    COUNCILS NEED TO GET OUT OF THEIR IVORY TOWERS AND UNDERSTAND JUST HOW IMPORTANT SMALL BUSINESSES ARE TO THE LOCAL & NATIONAL ECONOMIES. THEY NEED TO SUPPORT US,NOT PENALISE WITH VASTLY INFLATED RATES AND PETTY REGULATIONS THAT SERVE ONLY TO IMPEDE OUR GROWTH.

    • Bazzer said on May 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      Councils don’t set fees or the regulations.

    • Marc Allinson said on May 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

      They are being allowed to do so now though. They can increase their fees to cover their costs. This unfortunately will allow their costs to spiral as it will give them freedom to add more staff to spend more time “regulating” licensees and then increase their bills to pay for the privilege.

    • IM said on May 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      Council Officers know far more than youseem tothink about the operation of small businesses unfortunately they are frequently ham-strung by elected members who will often have their own prejudices and vested interests

  • Jane Simpson said on May 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Personal Licence Holders – basic training costs around £150 from an approved trainer. In the hospitality indurty staff move around a lot. If one leaves you need to get another trained & registered with your local Council (here in Scotland). Because of the time delays in processing applications it is impossibel to have one person leave & another registered before the first leaves.

  • Geoff Russell said on May 6, 2011 at 8:26 am

    There was a consultation on the new Licensing Regs on the DTI site? on this subject which took approx two hours to fill in – I did so and commented that some of the questions asked only allowed for answers the writer wanted to get. What has happened to these consultations? If this is another waste of time which I believe the first was/is then I have better things to do, but if you are serious about wanting the views of those affected by the plethora of regulations both existing and new you have to a) acknoweldge receipt and b) publish a synopsis of the results.

    I would appreciate an acknowledgment this has at least been read?

    Regards

  • Andrew Mosley said on May 6, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I think that 11.00 pm is too early to stop general hiours drinking and should be extended to minimum 12 midgnight if not poss 1.00 am

    • Bazzer said on May 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      There is no such thing as ‘general hours drinking’, in fact consumption is not regulated at all its only the sale of alcohol.

Bookmark and Share