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

  • C Scales said on May 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    We wish to allow guests to pre-order champagne for special occasions (to be waiting for them in a B&B room) or a bottle of wine to go with their dinner in the self-catering accommodation – this is a service (we are not next door to pubs or shops) and unlikely to create profit. For this we would have to go through the same licensing procedure and costs as a pub. Village Halls have greatly reduced fees and regulation, we believe small accommodation businesses providing alcohol in rooms (or perhaps up to a certain turnover or alcohol units per annum) rather than a bar should see similar relaxation.

  • mr peter salussolia said on May 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    there are already sufficiant licencing laws in place which are more than enough to control the on trade there for my view is not to add more regulation the solution is education in schools and control on the super markets selling under cost not more legislation i believe the goverment feels the ON trade is a soft target and does not take on the supermarkets because of thier power

  • Graham Bell said on May 26, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Leave licensing alone, with the exception of measures to control consumption, the original basis for licensing law, and from which all licensing objectives benefit. If supermarkets sold tobacco at a loss what would happen? Do governments run our country for the common good of the people they serve, or for the profit of the monopolistic economy they have enabled?

  • Charles Ross said on May 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Temporary event notices (TEN) used to be submitted to the police on one sheet of A4.
    Now they are a 6 page document (12 pages including guidance notes) submitted in triplicate (18 pages).
    Much of the additional information now required is unnecessary (such as personal details: date and place of birth, Naional Insurance number etc). The form even includes a box in section 5 with the option Yes or No; if you tick Yes the entire form is invalid and a complete waste of time.

    It is possible to have a Temporary Event Notice which lasts 96 hours, but it is not possible to have two seperate notices within 24 hours of eachother. Why?
    So if you applie for a ‘TEN’ on a Friday night for a party and then later someone wants to book a party on the Saturday night, you are unable to get a TEN. Why?

  • Steve Williams said on May 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Revert back to the 1964 Licensing Act, where pubs are seen as pubs and close at 23:00 and Nightclubs are permitted to 3am latest, thereby saving considerbale costs for policing town & city centres until 6am with intoxicated revellers.
    Britain was NEVER going to create a cafe culture, and was flawed before it was even passed in parliament. It is also way over due for the government to pull their finger out and stop beating up responsible well controlled on license premises and stamp on the off trade, supermarkets and off licenses are crippling the industry whilst governemnt sit back and grab the tax income!

  • Roger Gall said on May 24, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    The contributions so far demonstrate the difficulties the folly of the Licensing Act 2003 and show that it is quite impossible to fairly deal with either alcohol or entertainment concens in one consultaion let alone to combine them under one licencing process. Until they are once again separated – neither can obtain the concentrated examination that they both require.

  • Eric Chan said on May 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    How long will it take for the powers that be to focus on the main source of the nation’s drinking problem?

    When will the local licensing authorities take responsibility for their roles and be brave enough to tackle the large supermarkets?

    As an small bar that specialises in fine spirits and cocktails, the biggest problem I face is the continued efforts of the supermarkets flooding the consumers with cheap deal after cheap deal. Should it be right that the local [text deleted] can sell products cheaper then my local beer distributor, an official provider for one of the worlds largest brewery, can by it in for? Why dont the spirit companies and breweries also take more notice and impose their own minimum selling prices?

    It is all very well having stringent laws to abide by but make the playing field a little more even. I was able to buy 90 bottles of lager from a local supermarket without even so much as an eyebrow raised, do I also need to mention the 2 bottles of gin, whiskey and sherry? Try doing that in a licensed premises and see how many laws we would be under scrutiny for.

    Its about time we use a singular voice and stop the supermarkets from being able to sell alcohol so recklessly.
    They have a responsibility to the community as much as each licensed premises does but they seem to be able to sidestep each new amendment to legislation. Why we all ask? Isnt it about time we actually asked the question to the right people? [text deleted]

    Could we not impose a minimum alcohol sale by unit for supermarkets? How many units of alcohol should they be able to sell? They should be ask to make it a lot harder for alcohol to be purchased. If we cant force them to do it by cost then the alternative is for them to only be allowed to sell certain sizes and volumes.

    I am also tired of these so called medical experts having no communication with our trade and concluding that we are the source of all evil. If you want to know how to control the increasing medical problem we have in our
    country, try asking those of us who have to take care of the problems that are a result of “preloading ” on cheap supermarket booze. Dont hide behind fact and figures and wag your fingers and think your job is done. Talk with the right people for once.

    Education is the way forward, for both parents and those who will be the next generations drinkers.

    Anyone who works in licensing reading this thread, look at the common denominator in all these posts and begin to understand the error of your laws. The laws are targeting the wrong people and is beoming the cause of death of the countries last bit of culture, the good ole british pub.

  • Nigel Anstead said on May 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I am a publican but it would not let me say that.
    1. Too much emphasis is made on listening to the complainers. I entertained 400 people at a community Royal Wedding Party during the day and one person complained about the noise. In theory, the EHO can stop me. We need a balance to retain community spirit and benefit and not bow down to the loud minority.
    2. Local authorities should be given local freedom to do what they think is best in their area.
    3. I believe the supermarkets are too powerful. They sell drink cheap but take no responsibility. eg an 18 year old can buy a bottle of vodka for under £10, drink half of it quickly and immediately come to my pub and order a pint and at that point appear sober. 10 minutes later they are on the floor and I am considered irresponsible for serving him.
    4. Pubs are an important part of the community they serve. We raised over £32,500 for charity last year but we are penalised with extra tax which makes pub drinking expensive. When the pub dies out who is going to be the heart of the community?
    5. I would like to see some effort from the legislation to recognise community effort. It isn’t just sell, sell sell

  • Isabelle Gutierrez said on May 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    The Musicians’ Union (MU) remains of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment in the Licensing Act 2003 is not necessary and that its inclusion has greatly increased bureaucracy for very little benefit to the licensing objectives. The impact of the Act has been far reaching and MU members working across live entertainment have encountered a number of problems.

    However, we welcomed the last Government’s decision to consult on an exemption to the Act for small venues. Such an exemption would go a long way towards encouraging venues to put on live entertainment and we urge the Government to implement one as soon as possible.

  • Roger Gall said on May 22, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    The following from the above article:

    >Torbay Council’s letter to the Gooseberry Pie Fair committee said: “This department has received complaints from a number of residents about the music causing a disturbance during the event. We understand the music was live and amplified.

    “We do not consider this to be incidental music, and therefore this type of entertainment will require a Temporary Event Notice to be submitted in the future.

    “Please be aware that during the duration of the Temporary Event Notice you are still governed by the Environmental Protection Act 1990.<

    This Council advise that any noise from this activity is already subject to the Environmental Protection Act but insist on the duplication of a TEN under the Licensing Act 2003, on the basis of dealing with noise complaints.

  • amanda hewasinn [text deleted] said on May 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Return the sale of alcohol back to licenced premises I.E. Public Houses or dedicated Off Licences. Stop the whole sale trade of alcohol through super-markets, corner shops & garages & return its policeing back to professionals.

  • Graham Bell said on May 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Much legislation of the past 30 years has contributed to the demise of small business as each new Act has enabled authorities and others to take advantage at cost to the business, and ultimately all consumers. Health and Safety apart I recommend the removal of licenses from constantly irresponsible supermarkets, as the only way to control consumption is by education in the long term, and in the meantime by price and/or in supervised premises.

  • Ron Miles said on May 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Some form of Licensing Law has been with us since the 18th century and has evolved over the years into their current guise. There needs to be a degree of control over the consumption of alcohol, it is after all a drug, people aren’t always aware of the volume of alcohol present in the drinks they consume and that is where the responsibility of the licensee comes in, to constantly asses the condition of his patrons and decide, if necessary, when they have had enough. This is a role that is willingly undertaken but not always appreciated!! The Licensee is therefore the controlling influence within their premises, we set the standard.
    Since the late 60’s supermarkets have been offering alcohol for off sale, it didn’t take long for them to realise what an important commodity this was, it was soon used as a “lost leader” a magnet if you will to lure people into their stores, this resulted in the eventual demise of the Off Licence, after all how could they compete with the supermarkets who were selling the same products at or near cost. After virtually eliminating the Off License and now with around 70% of alcohol sales going through the supermarkets the focus of the supermarket has now shifted to the Public House, using the same tactics as those used against the Off Licences, offering alcohol at prices that cannot be matched by the Public House, the supermarkets are systematically closing in and eliminating the Public House.
    But where are the controls, where is the duty of care, If a customer walks in a supermarket and buys a shelf of vodka who would ask the question ” who is going to drink all this” providing the customer doesn’t appear drunk and there is no suspicion that the alcohol is being supplied to minors, no one, as long as it’s paid for they can drink themselves into oblivion.
    One of our most senior Coroners has recently said that the occurrence of death by alcohol poisoning has risen dramatically because of cheap supermarket alcohol. This cannot be allowed to continue.
    It is also now widely accepted by the Police and local Government that binge drinking is attributed to the availability cheap alcohol from supermarkets, that people consume excessive amounts of alcohol before going to the Pub, this is a major problem for the Licensee as alcohol doesn’t have an immediate effect and is therefore difficult to detect when a customer first enters the premises.
    All this appears to be with the consent of the Government, they must be aware of what is occurring, after all, they are responsible for the current Licensing Law. With that in mind, why is it when changes are made to the current Licensing Law such as the anti binge drinking amendments they are aimed at the “on trade”, they have no effect on the supermarkets except to push even more customers through their doors. The recent duty increase has almost no effect on supermarkets, they after all, use alcohol as a “lost leader” which would have a knock on effect if respect of VAT, you buy a product you claim the VAT, when you sell a product you pay VAT, if that product is being sold for less than it was bought then a repayment of VAT is made, how much revenue is the Government loosing, would anyone like to do the math?
    The British Public House is a fine tradition, steeped in history, nowhere in the world is there anything like the Great British Pub and it should be protected at all costs.
    I believe that the supermarkets should have imposed a minimum pricing level in line with the brewers recommended prices, not only would this reduce the binge drinking problem but increase revenue to the government, after all, the supermarkets have 70% of the alcohol sales so why shouldn’t they pay 70% of the due taxes.
    In return I would like to see the VAT and / or the duty on “on sales” reduced, let’s get the people back into the pubs, in a controlled environment, and let us do our job.
    I realise that not all Licensee’s are equal, not all have the same values but after 30 years in the industry I can assure you that from my experience the majority have.

    Ron Miles BII

  • Robert May said on May 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I start by asking what constitutes the greater good: – having well-managed environments for socialising with alcohol, or unregulated drinking on the street or in the home? in essence, on trade or off trade? i consider the on-trade to provide the greater goods so the balance should be weighted in favour of supporting the operatros of such venues in their difficult role with simple regulation easily understood and implemented, rather than continually challenging the existence and profitability of on-licences.
    Where the law requires a trained person to accept the duty to supervise the CONSUMPTION of alcohol (the DPS) the burden of regulation should be lighter than for the off-trade where nobody takes that role.
    1 Make the sole licensing objective the prevention of crime and disorder. The objective of public safety duplicates legislation such as Fire safety and Building Control, the objective to prevent public nuisance duplicates legislation such as the Noise regulations and the objective to protect children from harm is covered by Criminal Law. To the extent there are any gaps, such as the age at which children may buy or consume alcohol in different forms, they should be embedded in the Licensing Act, not as licensing conditions in different words on each individual pub licence. Standardisation of alcohol licensing, as a separate entity from the licesnig of other venues for other purposes in this way could avoid a great deal of drafting, reading and interpretation by both public servants and licensees.
    2 Include in every alcohol licence a presumption in favour of a range of other activities including food at any time, music, singing, dancing, comedy, TV, films etc, unless and until there is evidence that any particular activity is breaching other legislation within the powers of the local Authority Police, Fire and other agencies. Provide the power to attach a simple ban or temporary suspension of certain such activities from the licence, as an alternative to prosecution under those other powers
    3 Strengthen, then enforce, the Licensing Act to ban sales of alcohol from garage forecourts, regardless of the mix of trade on those sites between petrol retailing and general retailing.
    4 Remove the need for every applicant to copy the application to eight different agencies, many of whom have little interest in the proposals nor time to consider them. Give the Licensing Officer the sole responsibility to consult only those other agencies that they expect will have a relevant interest in the particular application.
    5 Implement a de minimis rule for alterations to the layout of licensed premises – eg if planning consent is not required then neither is licensing consent required, just submit a substituted licensing plan. Then if planning consent is required and is granted, licensing consent is deemed also to be granted – with only conditions to be agreed.
    6 Cumulative impact to become entirely a planning matter
    7 Implement the central database of personal licences asap; it will eliminate duplication of resources in licensing offices and assure pub owners that persons proven to be unsuitable cannot get back into the licensed trade in another area. It would be preferable to expand this to a central register of DPSs too. Then centralise these minor (non-premises based) licensing registration functions at DVLA Swansea or similar, to take the resource requirement out of the Local Authority offices.
    8 Merge licensing departments to unitary authority level
    9 Remove the presumption from the Guidance that a shop should be able to sell alcohol throughout its chosen opening hours. Limit late night sales to end at midnight so that it will usually end before the pubs close at weekends. Reinstate secure areas and streaming of all alcohol sales in the off-trade such that alcohol cannot be bought via the general supermarket check out or by using self-service tills.
    10 Provide for compensation to licensed operators when the Police or other regulatory authorities have been found by magistrates on appeal to have exceeded their powers.

    I will send again if I think of more ways to cut the cost and impact of these excessively detailed, and sometimes excessively enforced, regulations

  • DAVID HUNT said on May 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    My wife and I have been licensees for fifteen years and feel that the additional red tape incurred by the 2003 Licencing Act has made our already difficult and challenging occupation increasingly harder. With so many more rules and regulations and a one size fits all approach to everything from music to opening hours and smoking we could WELL see the end of many more individual and independent pubs. As has been previously stated the ‘big boys’ have the resources to combat much of the red tape but us small operators do not. With so much time having to be spent on this red tape we don’t have time to run our pubs properly. ITS KILLING US!

  • James J E Harman said on May 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I think its high time that the Smoking Ban was looked at. The issue needs to be drastically looked at! Thousands of pubs up and down the country have closed or are drastically down on trade before the ban. I suggest an establishment that sells Food has the Ban where as Pubs / Bars that do not have the Choice.

  • tony carson said on May 21, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I have ran and developed pub and restaurant chains for 33 years.Winning national awards for entrepreneurship,standards and marketing.In my opinion,the one rule fits all disadvantages the everyday hard pressed,socially responsible publican who wants to be an important conduit in the community he serves. They are being designed out of existence by default,when legislation targeted at the town centre late night bars that in part cause the problems,strangles them. But the other part is the cheap booze that many young people get fuelled up on before they go into town. Help socially responsible pubs to survive by lowering VAT -even if only on food to give them a lifeline and increase taxes in the off-trade to narrow the price gap such that people have less incentive to fuel up and are positively persuaded to drink in secure and socially responsible on-trade premises.

  • Lorenzo Carnevale-Maffe said on May 21, 2011 at 9:44 am

    In recent times we, as licensees, have had to many bits of legislation heaped upon us in recent times, and we are bogged down by petty rules. For example, a customer came into the pub carrying a musical instrument case, purcahsed a drink and sat in the garden; this was 2pm on a sunny Tuesday afternoon; unbeknown to me he played the instrustment for about 10 mins, quietly after asking other customers first. 30 mins later I received a call from the local council stateing that a complaint had been made with regards to the intrusment being played. I have to add that my Pub is on a busy road next to a railway crossing which closes up 8 times an hour and across from two construction sites on which a boring machine was in constant use. My gripe is that the council was forced to act on a very minor instant which affected no-one. We as licensee have to up with policing our front door, ensuring noise control even though outside my pub is the main route to the University for students walk to, esnusing that smokers do not smoke outside the pub, but for the width of the pub and not if they stand outside a neighbouring house. We must keep noise down inside the pub but cannot tell people to diserse when leaving the pub because the Police say as a licensee we have no authority outside the pub to move them on. The list goes on! I also want to add that the building was erected in 1593 and has been a a Public House since 1604.

  • Michael George said on May 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Its the differences in the intrepretation of the 2005 Licencing Act in Scotland. Our licence is issued by Glasgow City Council, but just over a mile away South Lanarkshire Council issues licences.

    Sunday opening is a classic example, Glasgow its 12.30pm, South Lanarkshire is 11.00am. This gives an advance to other pubs when earl;y football match are held on a Sunday with a 1.00pm kick-off.

    These differences should be done away with, a level playing field would make our business easier to manage.

  • Samantha Robinson-Wildman said on May 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Licensed premises such as pubs, bars, hotels, clubs etc all have to observe numerous rules with regard not only to the supply of alcohol, but how alcohol is displayed, promoted and advertised in their establishment. They cannot by the use of ‘happy hours’, BOGOF deals or any other promotion encourage customers to purchase more than they may have considered when entering the establishment. Some licensed premises are not permitted to admit children to their establishment or allow access to the sight of adults drinking. At all times all staff must show full knowledge of licensing regulations, observe responsible alcohol retailing guidelines and be able to assess if a customer has entered into the establishment in a fit state to consume alcohol before agreeing to serve.

    Licensed supermarkets however, can sell unlimited alcohol, advertise throughout the store (including entrances, end of toy aisles, on shelves where cigarettes were once displayed, at tills in the space once occupied by children’s sweets – a practice that was deemed unhealthy and enticing children towards obesity… etc) offer cut price deals, BOGOF and any other promotion imaginable to encourage the customer to bulk buy. At the checkout, the only nod to responsible alcohol retailing is the underage teller nodding to a more adult teller in order to get the agreement to sell.

    If on leaving the supermarket, said customer consumes some of the copious amount of cheap alcohol that he has just purchased and on his way home passes by a licensed premises such a local pub and causes a disturbance, said public house would be immediately in the frame for being the cause of the disturbance and the person’s inebriated state. The public house would then have to prove its innocence not only to the licensing authority and police but also the local community. The Supermarket would have no legal or moral responsibility at all.

    Ok, so this is an extreme case and the public house would probably end up clearing its name (not before losing it’s reputation, rates going up etc etc). The real likelihood is that people will drink cheap supermarket alcohol before going out to clubs and bars only to cause confrontation, aggravation and subsequent removal from the premises onto the street when the premises staff cannot legally serve them.

    It is the supermarket access to cheap alcohol that is causing most of the alcohol related problems in this country – not the licensed on-trade premises. The law should be tightened to align the off-sale of alcohol with the on-sale. There is no reason why the multi national supermarkets shouldn’t be held to responsible alcohol retailing in the same way the small, locally run village public house must comply.

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