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

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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

  • David Weston of the Bed & Breakfast Association said on May 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    We strongly support the various comments calling for a streamlining and simplification of the copyright licensing regimes, which are fragmented, confusing, overlapping and onerous. On alcohol licensing, we support the Tourism Alliance’s call for a “de minimus” approach to ease the burden for very small distributors of alcohol such as small B&Bs serving to guests, or flower shops selling bouquets with champagne, etc.

  • Sara Strawson said on May 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    My first comment is about entertainment which I can see provides a wide range of comments. Whereas I can see that some public places can be a nuisance if music is blaring out until the early hours on a regular basis, it is outrageous that venues can be closed by one or two new neighbours. This is akin to someone moving to the end of a runway at a local airport and then complaining about the noise. In Norwich this has happened. Venues, which have been used for years have been closed, or threatened with closure, by people moving in to housing nearby. The licensing laws for entertainment should be relaxed, or at least the whole scenario should be looked at thoroughly before a venue is closed. Consideration for the local residents is essential but pubs are also businesses and in the present economic climate are trying many different ways to keep going.

  • Jonathan Nelsey said on May 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    The ongoing disparate pricing between licensed operating premises and the supermarkets make a mockery of the licensing laws! Cheap alcohol fuel up and transference of the blame for the repercussions on yo one of the oldest and most earnest industry’s in the UK has to stop. As ever the world looks on at the foolish mistakes others make and wonders how we with our unique cultural heritage of pins and inns can continue to punish the effect and not examine the true cause. we shall one day teach our children of the coaches stopping at the Inn only to find their true value is list that: part of our forgotten past.

  • J Paveley said on May 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Violent Crime Reduction Act. The introduction of ADZ’s was ill-considered and has not worked. The proposal to replace them with a Late Night Levy repeats the failure becuae such measures don;t just target the causers of issues but all those traders in the catchment even if they are impeccable. For instance, a lovely village pub I know can trade to 1pm on Friday and Saturday without any issue, and could risk being caught up in a LNL arrangemnt. Scrap ADZ’s and don’t introduce the LNL. Also change the offence for selling alcohol to under 18’s to a qualification of intent to sell to underage. Draconian penalties were introduced for selling to under-18’s, and even the best managed pubs can be conned by some under-age consumers – there is some very good counterfeit ID out there. There shoudl be a higher standard of proof that a license holder is not taking reasonable measures to ensure under-18’s aren’t served. Finally, those under-18’s seeking to be served are never prosecuted – crazy! Under 18’s seeking to be served should be proecuted as they are the prime causers of a breach of the law.

  • Carole Paish said on May 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    It is ridiculous that licensed premises can get a temporary event notice, which overrides all their licensing restrictions, which were given after a court hearing. If they want they can have 12 events of 3 days and nights continuous music noise and drinking and the council cannot take any action, nor the police.

    • Tom Pegg said on May 20, 2011 at 9:06 am

      There is already a mechanism in place to stop this

      A copy of each TEN application is sent to the police, alongside the council licensing team. The police then have 48 hours make an objection to stop any events taking place.

    • Paul Cartwright said on May 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      The number of times a TEN may be given in respect of any particular premises is 12 times per calendar year but subject to a maximum aggregate duration of the periods covered at any individual premises is 15 days.

  • Adrian D. Greason-Walker said on May 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Copyright licensing: Accommodation businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to comply with copyright legislation when providing entertainment and communication facilities for customers. Customers’ expectations are increasingly diverse and businesses now find themselves having to provide satellite TV movies on demand and internet access as a matter of course. Potentially the business could require a TV license; the performing rights society license; phonographic performance license and the film banks license. Each of these licenses has a different fee structure based on the usage of the Copyright material and the size of the property. This confusing situation is exacerbated by copyright holders contracting different firms to locate and build businesses that may require these licenses. We have had reports of these firms employing intimidatory tactics without any clear guidance available to accommodation providers or other tourism businesses as to what they actually require to comply with the appropriate legislation/ payment structures and who, and how much, should be billed.

    We believe there needs to be a central copyright billing and licensing service that is regulated by an ombudsman that could arbitrate on complaints/appeals if required.

    The licensing act 2003: This is a case where one size does not fit all. With the introduction of this act we saw the licensing fees for small businesses with very low alcohol sales rise from £30 for three years to over £250 per year in many cases. The fees along with the paperwork have meant many small operators giving up their licenses. Alcohol was usually supplied as a service rather than a source of income in its own right, it was a means of providing added value to a service, but the increased fees now mean that the visitor is effectively deprived of this. We suggest that there should be a separate category of license required for businesses with very low alcohol sales. All this would require is that the business registers with the local licensing authority who will exempt the requirement for staff serving alcohol to be licensed. In the case of abuse of this position, if a complaint is made against the business and upheld the business would be required to obtain a full license.

  • Stephen Hammerton said on May 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    We own and operate caravan parks.part of the premises are licensed for alcohol, entertainment and gambling (bingo)similar information is required for each of the purposes and, in some cases, it is completely disproportionate to the scale of the operation or the risks involved. Completion of an application requires the production of a series of meaningless platitudinous statements that are of little relevence to the pupose of the operation. There are alos numerous annual fees due fo nothing other than a rubber stamp licence renewal.

  • Tracy Lea said on May 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Until the Government include the Supermarkets in the responsible sale of alcohol to customers then they will have to cover the extra expense of the the consequences of “binge drinking” by e.g. the police and NHS as people get drunk at home on cheap booze before they go out. This evidence has been well recorded in documentaries and news programs etc. The Government is strangling businesses when it promised to help unburden them. Pubs are closing by a high rate every week and communities are losing out espcially if they have alreadt lost their post office and village shop as well.

  • Roger Gall said on May 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Re the question posed about whether we think general safeguards are adequate:

    It is only sensible that huge public gatherings on temporary sites may still require some measures which reflect the real risks being presented, like the measures in place for major football games in large stadiums -measures that are not thought necessary for small-scale matches on every recreation ground and school.

    The public’s interests are already ensured by a range of other existing legislation, in premises where they gather, like pubs, clubs and schools. If this legislation is not thought adequate to serve this function, it is this legislation which needs to be addressed. As long as the number of people attending is limited to the physical limitations of these permanent premises – the public’s interests are already ensured. And whatever activity the public may be involved in, is a matter for only for them and not for employees of the local authority to decide.

    However, whatever we may think, it is already clear that Parliament must be of this view. This is would be evidenced even if the Licensing Act 2003 contained only one exemption to the general requirement for additional entertainment licensing. In fact the Act already contains many exemptions, where Parliament must already be satisfied that the prevailing general safeguards are perfectly adequate.

    As the LGA Group lobby are not maintaining that the Act’s existing exemptions are threatening the public’s interests – we should not expect them to be scare-mongering and making this claim over any new exemptions or proposals. The unnecessary and increased licensing burdens which were introduced to place under local authority control just about every activity of the public, can now be safely removed.

    Legislation which deems the provision of any live music in a pub to be unsafe without additional entertainment licensing permission but deems the same music not to require this and to be safe when the same music is played from a moving road vehicle – is urgently in need of nothing less than being confined to the rubbish bin.

  • Juliet Williams said on May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    B & B’s should be allowed to serve wine or a lager with evening meals with out licence but with common sense, which we all had in the first place

    • Darren Moore said on May 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      Makes perfect sense Juliet. Common sense is all that we need in most situations.

    • Robin Clough said on May 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

      Proportionality. Small b&bs should not have to apply for licence to serve alcohol to diners. Put it the othe way round that upto say 10 covers no licence required, but the police able to apply for an order to stop sale of alohol if irresponsible behaviour reqired. Doubt whether in a year in uk any such order would be applied for.

  • Mike Arnold said on May 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I work as a licensing consultant both for the private sector and licensing authorities. The Licensing Act 2003 needs a radical simplification. There is a great deal of repetition between club and premises provisions. There are anomalies such as premises licences not being able to be cancelled other than by the holder of the license which has led to building sites still holding licenses long after the licensed business has failed and been demolished. The prescriptive time scales for the various functions of the Act take no account of the needs of small businesses and small licensing authorities where resources are limited. Temporary events notices need to be more flexible should we really be refusing a party for a 90th birthday because the organiser did not know the lead in times for notification. Indeed should events like this be licensable. There are a range of apparently random exemptions – why Morris dancing, why carols at a service but not otherwise? The hearing regulations should be consolidated into the main legislation and simplified. There are many other examples but these are a good example of regulation written without any knowledge of how either the trade or regulators operate in practice and are more concerned with process than outcome. There is then the complication of the on line application system through ELMS which takes a huge resource to set up and maintain and is little used by business because of the overcomplicated (and slow) process involved in making an application.

  • Red Tape Challenger said on May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am

    There are a lot of comments on here about licensing for music and it’s clear that people have different views. I think one of the interesting questions is whether “general” protections around noise etc. provide enough safeguards meaning you don’t need a separate set of regulations covering this. Do people have views?

    • Roger Gall said on May 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      In reply to your request about what you refer to as “general” protections around noise -If I may, I would like to pose two questions of my own in return.

      Is it correct for you to refer to the statutory redress against noise nuisance – under various Acts, irrespective of licensing, including noise abatement notices issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (which can be pre-emptive or reactive), on-the-spot fines for licensees under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (for noisy premises between 11pm and 7am), and fines under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (noise nuisance coming from a dwelling or garden between 11pm and 7am) – as only “general” protections around noise?

      As it would only be fair to describe all of this as being rather specific protections for the public- what is wrong with all of this that cannot be fixed by changes in this legislation and which requires the added confusion of addititional legislation to be enforced from yet another council department?

  • Roger Gall said on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Cultural considerations -v- Entertainment Licensing.

    LACORS guidelines for Licensing Committee Hearings advise that cultural considerations ‘will always be subservient to the Licensing Objectives’.

    It can be seen how some Licensing Authorities may view such guidelines as a green light to reach and justify a position where cultural and indeed all of a council’s other responsibilities towards the public are always subservient to so-called licensing requirements. I will demonstrate here a local situation where this is the case.

    But in reference to Cultural Strategies, the S 182 Guidance to the Licensing Act 2003 clearly states:

    13.58 Care will be needed to ensure that only necessary, proportionate and reasonable licensing conditions impose any restrictions on these events. Where there is any indication that events are being deterred by licensing requirements, statements of licensing policy should be re-visited with a view to investigating how the situation might be reversed. Broader cultural activities and entertainment may also be affected.

    There can be little doubt that many events and cultural activities are being deterred by so-called licensing requirements and also that very few, in any, are subsequently subject to the required review process (above).

    But how many of these conditions and restrictions being imposed, as so-called local licensing requirements, can be actually justified as being necessary to enable Licensing Authorities to follow, the Act’s very worthy Licensing Objectives?

    The following is an example of what was (and still is) accepted by the Local Government Ombudsman as being my “Council’s view” on the Act’s exemption for the performance of live music or the playing of recorded music that is incidental. This despite the fact that there was no evidence of this advice and so-called licensing requirement, being presented to or endorsed as policy by any council committee and that this advice deterred a participatory folk music session from re-starting under the benefit of this exemption. This session was one that this council had prevented earlier under the previous legislation, for lack of the then Public Entertainment Licence (PEL).

    She [Bridget Downton] enclosed information available and commented on the Council’s view of what constituted incidental music. This was considered to be; music that could take place without an audience, music that would not be advertised or held on a regular basis: and music that would not be amplified. She added that the Council’s preference was not to apply ’a one size fits all’ approach and to consider each case on its merits and to advise licensees accordingly.

    This so-called licensing requirement was advised in a letter dated 5 May 2006. Despite the passage of time, the issuing of a document containing new advice on this exemption from LACORS in September 2009 and considerable effort to try and get it changed to something more sensible – the position locally, as regards this so-called licensing requirement, remains the same.

  • English Association of Self Catering Operators said on May 17, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    EASCO would support a change to the Licensing Act that would allow a light-touch approach to extremely low volume sales of alcohol. Where for example the owner of a holiday cottage wishes to offer a welcome pack to guests including a bottle of wine, this may represent a supply of no more than a few dozen bottles in a year and as such the process of alcohol licensing is an excessive regulatory burden for such small-scale alcohol supply. There are other situations in which very low-volume supply of alchohol poses no threat to public safety or order whatsoever and we believe that these completely harmless supplies of alcohol should be removed from the licensing regime altogether or alternatively replaced with a simply declaration procedure of a similar type to that appertaining to Temporary Events.

    • Red Tape Challenger said on May 18, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Thanks. A very helpful comment which we will take up with the Home Office.

  • Gavin Scott said on May 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    With regard to live music regulation: I’ve noticed a few references to ‘un-amplified’ or ‘acoustic’ music. I think it would be wrong to differentiate between acoustic and amplified music, bearing in mind that acoustic music could include a military band, a drum kit or seventy-six trombones! Amplified music could be as innocuous someone playing a keyboard through its own internal speakers in a venue that doesn’t have a piano, or a jazz guitarist providing some background music in a restaurant.

    • Roger Gall said on May 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      These are good points. It is wrong for any music which is not really likely to be a noise concern in practice, to be prevented or limited in advance of a note being played, only on the grounds that it MAY present a noise concern.

      This is why the correct legislation to address noise emanating from all sources, should be used to deal with the problem of noise, where and if it occurs. And why the blanket application and advance measure of additional entertainment licensing is NOT the correct legislation to deal with noise and should be scrapped.

      For currently – where there is a noise concern which is emanating from licensed or unlicensed music – it is noise legislation as contained in the Environmental Protection Act which will deal with them both.

      So what role (other to confuse the issue) has the Licensing Act 2003 to play as regards noise? Whether emanating from amplified live music, from non-amplified live music or from the playing of recorded music (which is all amplified) – the important thing is that the public are protected. Council employees have the training to measure and deal with this – they do not have the training to decide for us which label is applied to what music, which then determines how it is treated, but this is the role they are currently expected to play under the Licensing Act 2003.

      An example of this is the LACORS Advice For Licensing Authorities About Incidental Music. Published in Sept 2009. This contains such gems as advertising that the name of the musican would exclude qualification for this exemption, as would the the seating facing one way. Stand-comedy acompianied by a pianist would qualify as exempt but a singer/pianist supported by a stand-up comedian would not…..I jest not and there is more such nonsense, which is why this exemption has not been of any practical benefit.

  • Barry Slasberg said on May 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    For my organisation, Working Men’s Club & Institute Union Ltd, the objectives of the Licensing Act have been enshrined in our ethos and constitution for almost 150 years. The act has not changed us one jot other than to line the pockets of Local Authorities with ever incresing fees through ever increasing regulation. We have self-policed effectively and would be able to continue to do so unhindered by outside legislation. The answer could be the scrapping of the act for organisations such as ours and the introduction of a much simpler and user friendly”Clubs Act” This act would cover all matters relating to private not for profit clubs including licensing. if Government had the power to properly regulate the off trade and use our movement’s model on alcohol consumption, the answer to the binge drinking culture would be in sight. Red tape and excessive fees to fund it solves nothing.

  • Lillian Adams said on May 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Remove all alcohol licences from food shops, supermarkets and general stores. Return the sale of all types of alcohol to pubs/bars/hotels and premises of that nature for ‘on’ sales and to public houses and specialist off licenses for ‘off’ sales. This would preclude the use of alcohol sales as ‘loss leaders’ and promote resposibility in these sales which is not provided by supermarkets and the like.

  • matthew Burns said on May 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

    i run a town center pub in east yorkshire i found that not many venue’s have problems when they serve alchol up to midnight the problems come when venues serve alchol to the early hrs of the morning . If anything being able to purchase alchol up to midnight stop’s the binge drinking we use to get when 11pm was last orders. The other problems i have found are that the council’s licencing officers are not as good as the ol police licencing officer being pulled up for three empty bottles on my door step which would be cleaned up by myself or staff members would have never happened .

  • Peter Holt said on May 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    We hire our small village hall to many different types of groups. Some want to serve alcohol or present a play or stage a music concert etc. The Licensing Act puts restrictions (often based on very old regulations that have been carried over into the Act when it was set up) that make it difficult and expensive to operate this community facility. We are restricted to only 12 occasions in a year when a ‘Temporary Event Notice’ for the sale of alcohol at parties, dances and concerts is permitted. This restriction should go and along with it the need to ‘regulate’ local Drama, Dance clubs etc when they want to put on a show for the locals.

  • Karen Woolley said on May 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    The licensing Act makes it far too difficult for someone like myself to consider even offering alcohol to my guests. I run a small 2 bed B&B 5 miles from the nearest pub, restaurant and off licence, and I offer evening meals to my guests. They find it hard to believe that I cant even give them alcohol/wine with their meals, offer it as a gift in their rooms or sell them wine as it would be far too costly and beaurocratic for me to even attempt to apply for a license. I may only have a dozen guests a month eating in so surely consideration for small establishments to offer or sell alcohol/wine with meals in a controlled environment could be considered without mountains of paperwork, CRB checks, court applications and costs to consider.

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