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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

183 responses to Licensing

  • Gavin Scott said on May 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    “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.”

    Why is live entertainment regarded as a potential crime and disorder threat? (There is separate legislation covering noise nuisance.)

    Why does live music need to be regulated so much more than recorded music or big screen sports, which are not covered under this act? Why is a pub piano considered more of a threat to public safety than a pub full of football supporters?

    As many have said below, there should be no licence required for entertainment in smaller venues with a capacity of less than 200.

    • Roger Gall said on May 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      I would just like to add the following to this sensible post.

      Why does the sale of hot food automatically become crime, disorder, a public nuisance, a threat to children and harmful to the wider public at 11pm?

      It is for those many occasions when at the stroke of 11pm, you see criminal gangs shouting loudly in the street whilst threating children with a hot sausage?

      If so, how is paying in advance for additional permission really likely a measure that will avoid such ocasions, and why is the public left unprotected and to be at risk from the hot sausage waver before 11pm.

      I jest here of course but much of this legislation is simply taking us all to the absurd.

  • Roger Gall said on May 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    However necessary they once may have been, there comes a time when the stabilising wheels on a child’s bicycle are no longer serving any useful function and when the wheels themselves and any arguments made to in order to retain them, are actually hindering any forward progress.

    Such is the position with the additional entertainment licensing permission, as contained in the Licensing Act 2003. Despite the introduction of vast amount of environmental and other legislation, the LGA Group lobby argue that these regulations, which affect just about everyone, are the only way that the public can be protected in our schools and other places where the public’s interests have already been assured by risk assessment and other existing legislation.

    This is the same as insisting that the very sensible measures required for major football matches, such as the provision of police outside of grounds and of stewards inside, are necessary to ensure the public’s interest for every football match played on all of our recreation grounds, parks and schools.

    This argument is plainly nonsense but is perhaps understandable when it is coming from a powerful lobby whose purpose is regulation.

    Urgent Govt action is required to reverse the main thrust of the Licensing Act 2003 and to separate from the legislation the PROBLEMS related with alcohol from the BENEFITS of live music and entertainment and ensure that those who are paid to enforce the legislation do not continue to be able to treat them as if they were one and the same.

    This will ensure that those who wish to object to alcohol related issues can no longer not use complaints about entertainment as a means to achieve their aims and that restrictions and curfews, placed by Licensing Authorities on entertainment cannot be used as a soft target and sacrifice in order to placate objectors and enable applications for alcohol consumption to proceed.

    It also makes no sense – given the main objectives of the Licensing Act 2003 – to have what threatens to be in practice an 11.30 curfew on entertainment, when the same premises can serve alcohol until much later and when there is no longer a generally set time when the sale of alcohol must end.

  • Ann Alexander said on May 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I agree with the comments made by John Booth (see below). There is no sensible reason to need a license for small scale music events of any sort. perhaps the limit should be 200 people.

  • Crispin Cooper said on May 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    From my experience as a music promoter (outside of my regular job as researcher in city planning) I would say that overly stringent licensing laws generally cripple small business and diversity – and ultimately quality of life for the consumer and economic growth. In so many city centres, the vast majority of economically viable venues are the ones that cater to the lowest common denominator – clubs that cater to the binge drinking culture and pubs owned by large chains who can afford the admin costs. If smaller enterprises were given a break from this we might just see a more robust and thriving local entertainment scene.

  • John Booth said on May 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I see no reason at all to require a license for unamplified music in small venues. I am familiar with the folk scene (helping to run a folk club) and have never seen a circumstance where any problem has been caused by either the music or those gathered to enjoy it. Folk music and similar acoustic performances have been part of our culture for many years and enable many amateurs to take part in music making in a social setting. The vast majority of these events and clubs are run by amateurs and generally on a not-for-profit basis (though there are professionals who rely on the existence of these venues). Even on the occasions where such venues have installed (even permanently) a pa system, volume levels are generally low, in fact probably lower than those caused by fans watching a live tv football match.
    Yes, the current legislation could be simplified, ought to be in fact, and small events and venues as I describe should not really require legislation at all.

  • phil simmons said on May 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Pubs are the best place for people to enjoy alcohol. The constant, unnecessary and overly restrictive introduction of more and more red tape is totally unjustified. Drunken kids hanging around shopping precincts, parks etc., are usually seen drinking drinks not bought in a pub, and, as has been stated before, late night town centre drunkenness is usually caused by drinking at home before going out. Who’s fault is that? Not the pubs, but you the Government. You put tax after tax and expensive regulations onto the only places where drinking is monitored by publicans and their staff, for whom it’s no advantage to have a pub full of drunks. Where as supermarkets are allowed to sell cheaply with little restriction. [Text deleted] I also read that the ‘late night levy’ will not be ring fenced for city centre patrols but 70% will be added to the police general funding, in other words, a new stealth tax. One thing I never hear asked is why do people drink so much? Maybe it’s the stressfulness and, in some cases, the futility of living in Britain where ruling classes never listen to the people?

    • Alex Walker said on May 14, 2011 at 2:34 am

      When are people going to learn. It is not the supermarkets selling cheap alcohol that is the outrage, because they are not! – They are selling alcohol at a reasonable price equal to it’s worth, unlike the outrageous rip off prices charged in pubs and clubs! No wonder so many people drink before they go out! – If the prices in the pubs and clubs weren’t so horrific, then things would be a lot better.

      And the argument that “cheap” alochol (in reality normal priced and just not stupidly expensive!) should be curbed in order to stop binge drinking just doesn’t wash! – That is because it penalises those who are perfectly capable of managing how much they can drink as well as those causing the problems. You do not solve a problem by changing things in a way that effects others that have nothing to do with the problem. That is never the way forward and never will be as you are just creating a whole host of other problems and burdens on another innocent section of society. The challenge is to achieve the objectives without the unintended consequences for others.

      How about tougher sentences for those who commit alcohol fuelled violence – The police time/money and prison space to accomodate this could be created through prison ships and by not arresting or jailing so many people for other unworthy, or trivial matters like petty drug dealing, public sex, or organising so called illegal raves etc. Jailing people over trivial things is often supposedly to “send a message”. The main message that sends is that you can’t trust the criminal justice system not to make scapegoats out of people and rarely achieves it’s intended aim of changing anything.

    • Jenney Robinson said on June 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      With reference to Alex Walkers comments why do people find it necessary to drink before they go out unless it is with the intention of getting drunk. The problem is with society and it’s current attitudes not with legislstion. And by the way yes I do drink but not to excess.

  • G Berman said on May 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I, and many many others, cannot understand why venues, eg pubs, can show football matches etc, without applying for a license for the event, whereas restaurants, village halls, etc., can’t have a couple of musicians lighten the evening. The licensing of such small level entertainment is worse than kill-joy, it inhibits musicians from earning an honest living. All that you need do is free UNAMPLIFIED music from the restrictions.

  • Karen Venn said on May 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    A return to magistrates awarding licenses. Our licence application was very straight forward and was recognised as such by the licensing department in our district council but because the application had to cover all times that we might be required to serve guests a bottle of champagne or wine in their room we were subject to many objections from people who did not understand the process. The upset in the community was so unneccesary and returning to the earlier system would be much preferable.

  • Ken Standen said on May 13, 2011 at 7:35 am

    The old Licensing act had more control over how alcohol was sold ”in the good old days” when I started in this industry the only place to buy alcohol was in the pub or off licence. the licensing law came into effect to insure that the workers stopped drinking and went to work. Maybe we can learn some thing from our history.
    24hour drinking, easy access and bad control, is not helping an already bad situation.
    The new licensing act needs to be changed. without the superstore selling drink at a loss to get customers to buy there other products and give them the added profit they require.
    The sale of alcohol in superstores will not harm them but it is helping to close the pubs and entertainment centres all around england.

  • Susan Hick said on May 13, 2011 at 3:52 am

    The current system of applying for tempory event licences is extremely cumbersome and beaurocratic. I have run a market stall on behalf of Allendale Microbrewery at our local Farmers Market for the past 2 years and each time I have to apply for a new TEN.
    This involves x3 hard copies of a 5 page application form (ie 15 pages) . 2 copies are sent to the Licensing officer, 1 to the police. One copy is signed and sent back to me for display at the stall. Cost each time: £21 + Postage, paper and envelopes and TIME WASTED. The timeline is also very tight – if the application is not on the desk of the licensing officer at least 10 working days before the market he will not look at it. – often delays in county hall internal postage can mean my early applications are useless.
    We are also limited to 50 TEN /year. This can reduce our opportunies to sell at other temory venues, eg local shows, weddings bars etc. Please increase the maximum number to allow us more selling opportunities.
    Please also remove such beaurocracy by issuing multiple TENs ( eg for a momthly stall at the Market )and computorise the application system.
    I understand the need for notifying the police but this is just paper pushing to get more revenue for the council – money which could be saved by computorising the system.
    many thanks for your help,
    Susan Hick

    • Barry Topp said on May 15, 2011 at 10:51 am

      I endorse Susan Hick’s comments,having been an “on-Licence” holder under the previous system,the courts were far less bureaucratic, in most cases of applying for “occasional licences” (TEN equivalents),it was a single sheet self carbonating for 3 copies (1each for court,police and yourself),because you were an”on-Licence”holder there were no limitation on the number granted each year,(not limited to 50)working shows,steam rallies, and Farmers Markets etc,I used to obtain 150 yearly.The court system seemed far fairer with their neutrality compared to the individual council’s varying interpretation of Licencing Law.
      This system could be made even simpler,after all Licence Holders(Now Premises and Personal Licence Holders) are vetted by the Police,surely if there was no objections re times etc it could be automatically granted,only going to licensing if there was a dispute.I feel the previous system was far easier and less bureaucratic also allowed for short notice applications

  • Tim Willets said on May 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    The Public Entertainment aspects of licensing have created a whole raft of problems and bureaucracy for musicians, promoters and premises owners alike. Some local authorities are imposing reams of unnecessary conditions. The removal of the old “two in a bar” rule that allowed two musicians to perform without a license being required hasd greatly freduced the amount of work avaialble to many musicians and imposed considerable bureaucracy on venue owners who previously would not have required a licence for duos or solo artists to perform in their premises. It is also more expensive to obtain a license than under the previous system in terms of both direct and indirect costs.

    Far from seeing an increase in the number of venues providing live musical entertainment, the current legislation has had the opposite effect and is acting as a restraint on trade on both the artists and premises owners/managers..

    A succession of ministers have promised reform of Public Entertainment Licensing – including allowing an audience of 100-200 before a licence is required. Despite promises, nothing has happened. This section of licensing law should be abolished or, failing that, amended in accordance with the wishes of those directly involved in the business – musicians, actors and premises owners. If the activities of a venue cause problems for local people then there is an abundance of other law already in place to deal with such problems, exactly as it did before the current regime was imposed.

  • Jon Merrall said on May 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Amend the smoking ban so that pubs can offer dedicated smoking rooms if they wish to do so.
    The smoking ban is not justified on the grounds of medical evidence, is forcing pubs and clubs out of business and restricts freedom of choice.

    • John Skellett said on May 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      I totally agree with Mr Merrall, we need to amend the current legislation and bring it back to the day’s of smoking rooms in pubs and clubs. If people choose to enter these areas then they do so at their own choice. I am a non-smoker and grew up in the licensing trade – the sector is really struggling at present and requires all the help it can get.

  • Geremy Phillips (Chair Variety Advisory Committee, Equity) said on May 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    As the licensing law, as it stands, is flawed in many ways and causes confusion and in some cases hardship, not to mention some closure of venues, it is of no benefit to anyone in its present form. In the current, difficult financial climate it would seem sensible to remove such an obstacle thus encouraging financial success and asisting moral boosting entertainment. I would therefore respectfully request that this licensing law should be abolished.

  • william lees-jones said on May 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    the licensing act was badly conceived compared to when licensing was administered impartially adn efficiently by magistrates. There are many complex reasons why pubs are closing in the UK and the high cost of licensing may be another if local authorities are allowed to recover all of their costs in administering licensing in an increasingly bureaucratic way. It was always a nighmare to hold a public entertainmetn license but all licenses are now going the same way

  • John said on May 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    As well as being allowed to stop drivers and test the alcohol content in their system, police should be allowed to do the same with anyone in a public place (pub, street, bus, etc) and issue a fixed penalty fine if they are in excess of a set limit. And the alcohol limit for drivers should be zero.

  • Helen North said on May 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    When I was working in pubs 30+ years ago, even before the drink driving laws, it was the duty of the publican/bar staff to refuse to serve anyone with alcohol who was obviously drunk. Surely, if this was enforced nowadays then it would cut the vast numbers of obviously paralytic people who fall out of bars and clubs obviously drunk, causing fights, throwing up and needing to use the over-stretched police and or ambulance services to sort them out. Why can’t it still be the duty of the publican to refuse to serve alcohol to obviously drunk people? Or perhaps it is, and they don’t care as long as they are making money. Perhaps they should be the ones who should pay for the police/ambulance to attend outside their premises? It is obviously too much to ask the general public to take responsibility for themselves. Maybe the drunk person should be charged the realistic cost of being attended by police/ambulance crews?

  • Steve Farrer said on May 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I would like to see a ruling that only allows a person who has an interest or the owners OK to apply for a TEN on a piece of land or property. This will eliviate the application for a TEN just to stop a function going on.

  • mary lane said on May 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I am very sad to see how the Licensing Act 2003 has eroded the workplace of many young people wanting to go into the entertainment industry to the extent that they have very little choice left where they are able to learn their trade. Pubs, Clubs, hotels have all been drastically affected by the cost of complying with regulations which are drachonian, unfair, illl thought out and unsuccessfull. The governement need to completely rethink their position, and quite possibly, exclude entertainment from licensing conditions altogether, before there is nowhere left to perform.

    • Christie Clifford said on May 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      I agree with all of the above. Well said Mary. I can remember the days when work was plenty as there were venues with live music all over the towns and cities where I have lived. It is sad for anyone starting out today with so few options. We must act now before it’s too late.

  • StevenL said on May 11, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Abolish the Licensing Act 2003 regime and go back to the old rubber stamp system but with 24 opening. We don’t need the politicians, bureaucrats and NIMBYs interfering with the LV markets.

  • Marie Stevens said on May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    The costs for licence renewal are excessive, how can they be justified?

    I feel totally let down by the Governments idea of getting tough with the supermarkets. Allowing alcohol to be sold at no less than duty plus VAT is not my idea of curbing cut price sales. As a licence holder I am regarded as a fit and proper person who is tasked with selling alcohol responsibly and my whole livelihood would be at stake were I to fall foul of all the regulations or even have a criminal conviction for any other offence. Why then is it possible to pick up a bottle/can of alcohol off the shelf of any retail outlet with a licence where vigilance and duty of care are not realistically at the same level of priority as they are with publicans? If we have to live with such tough regulations then we should on a level playing field. It constantly amazes me that politicians seem to think we are the sector that is responsible for binge drinking when it is well known at grass roots level that those that wish to ‘get drunk’ ,to put it politely, pre load at home with cheap alcohol purchases from the supermarkets. They can’t afford to preload in the pubs!
    On another point, the possible levy on premises that serve after midnight to help pay for policing any trouble is grossly unfair. Why should it be a blanket levy, it should be the premises that have the troublemakers that should pay for the policing. I run a rural destination pub and restaurant and we never have any trouble and I have been in business for 15 years. My customers are nice people who come for a drink and, or, a meal with good service in a well run and clean establishment. I feel so angry that we are all tarred with the same brush. If we as licensees are seen as drug peddlars why don’t the Government shut us all down and have done with it?

    • Susan Hick said on May 13, 2011 at 4:00 am

      I completely agree with all you say Mark. As the owner of a small country pub myself we are all burdened with the same rules meant for inner city problems. These things should be applied by postcode or area and our community value recognised.


    • Robert Feal-Martinez said on May 13, 2011 at 9:32 am

      I too have a rural pub, I just want to be left alone to serve my customers and guests. In 27 years I have never felt the need to call the police as I don’t allow situations to get to a point where they would be needed.

      Being a good Publican is about watching and listening.

    • Barry Topp said on May 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

      I fully agree alcohol off sales should have stayed with pubs and off licence premises only ,I was told the 24hr licence aspect of the current laws were put because of Supermarket pressure with many of their stores being open 24hrs,also with store size there is no way that sales are effectively monitored like in small stores.

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