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

  • Mike Nichols said on May 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    The act of 2003 was terribly damaging to the grassroots music scene. Pubs, small clubs, village halls etc should be exempt from the licensing requirement regarding love entertainment. This country has produced souch great music and the British music industry is a major contributor to the economy. That only happened because we had a thriving grassroots music scene in the pins and clubs. Now the pub music scene has been effectively killed off it has made the uk a blander place to live. The crazy thing is that existing fire and noise regulations were always sufficient to regulate live entertainment in pubs. This I’ll thought out over regulation has been a terrible blow to British culture. I sincerely hope the new government will exercise some much needed common sense on this and repeal the ‘two in a bar’ rule.

  • Will Harris said on May 28, 2011 at 9:21 am

    We remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Mick Parker said on May 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I agree with the opinion of the Musician’s Union that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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 reinstate some of the lost opportunities for live entertainment and we urge the Government to implement one as soon as possible.

  • Steven Williams said on May 28, 2011 at 7:00 am

    We remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Nancy said on May 28, 2011 at 4:44 am

    I support the MU:

    There is nothing like live music and live performances. Yes, as a member of the audience (and as the performer) it can be hit and miss but when the hits come it can change your thoughts/life and when there is a miss it gives you something to talk about and share with others. This is slowly dying due to red tape & the unwillingness of venues to even face the administration.

    We remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Brian Armistead said on May 27, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I would scrap it. The result of this legislation has been to destroy and cut off the grass roots ‘arenas’ where most musicians/artists explore, learn, and develop their craft. Live music at grass roots level is essential to the revitalisation of our culture. Music belongs in many places and situations throughout our lives and for it to be restricted in this way is absolutely ridiculous in a modern society.
    Here’s a situation that I recently found myself in. I was booked with 2 other musicians to play for a private party in a pub. We were to play a low volume gig with acoustic instruments (with small amp) and double bass. Two days before the event we were informed that NO amplification at all was to be allowed (!?) The result was we played acoustically and nobody – ourselves included – could hear a note that was played other than some of the acoustic bass. We fulfilled our contractual obligation. The guests didn’t hear any of the music or vocals we provided due to the background noise of conversation. This situation came about because of some bureaucratic cock-up with the licensing. The landlord had to pay a licence fee for this. The client was not happy. The person for who the event was organised was disappointed and we were too. This had nothing to do with anti-social behaviour or noise levels.
    Another point I’d like to make is that most live music is over by midnight and I’d guess that most anti-social behaviour happens later than this probably around the late bars and clubs that are part of today’s nightlife.
    I remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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 and greatly reduced incomes as a consequence.

    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. Then we can perhaps be part of the big society!

  • Adeola said on May 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I believe strongly that the inclusion of regulated entertainment, in particular live music, 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, including several friends of mine, 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.

  • Cliff Barker said on May 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I agree with the position of the Musicians’ Union that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Alan Radford said on May 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    The 2003 Act imposed a blanket of red tape across entertainment venues. If such regulation is deemed necessary, it should surely differentiate between (a) venues serving alcohol and those which don’t; (b) amplified and unamplified music or acceptable and unacceptable decibel levels; (c) time of day – what is an acceptable decibel level during the day may not be acceptable late at night; (c) large and small venues – and the 100 audience level under consideration is far too small to provide adequate payment for entertainers. There is other legislation on the statute books covering disorderly conduct, noise nuisance, health and safety etc., and the 2003 Licensing Act just made things more bureaucratic, unnecessarily strict, and did the exact opposite to the Government’s stated aim of encouraging live entertainment.

  • Tony Reeves said on May 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) in the Licensing Act 2003 is completely unnecessary and that its inclusion has greatly increased bureaucracy for almost no 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.

  • Paul Smith said on May 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I share the opinion of the Musician Union that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Tony Cerexhe said on May 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    The provision of entertainment (music, dance, thatre etc) should not be regulated by blunt instrument that is The Licensing Act 2003. As a festival organiser i have applied for many TENs allowing me to stage outdoor events with an upper limit of 500 attendees. If the attendance creeps above this figure I am theoretically liable to prosecution. Local councils have licensed some premises/ areas for certain elements within the regime but a TEN is still required if the element I wish to supply is not covered. I suggest that, to encourage the Arts, the Licensing Act should be scrapped in it’s entirety and replaced by local permissions issued by the local council. Local/regional councils are better placed to understand the issues involved and can balance public safety against culturallly and economically beneficial events run by local voluntary organisations.

  • Nicholas Smith said on May 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    As a Musician’s Union member I am also of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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 negative impact of the Act has been felt by many MU members and their colleagues working across live entertainment. 
    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.

  • M. Cope said on May 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Alcohol is NOT the Primary cause of problems in the Community. Poor Education, Lack of Respect for Common Values & replicating Criminal Behaviour (i.e. – Gang Culture) is at the root of most turmoil. Entertainment & the use of intoxicants has always been part of humankind’s existence. If this Act is approved, the UK is heading toward an era – akin to ‘Prohibition’ in the United States of America.

    Therefore, we remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Nik alevroyiannis said on May 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    We remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Bastien Terraz said on May 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    We remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Alex Chapman said on May 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    We remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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.

  • Nick Walton said on May 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Please find comments made on behalf of Poppleston Allen Licensing Solicitors.

    1. Electronic Applications

    • Electronic applications do not work. Jeremy Allen, of this firm, sat on the Working Party for the development of Electronic Applications, the committee was top heavy and many members did not understand the problems and issues relating to the process. A much smaller group comprising of Local Authorities and practitioners who know the issues could make the programme work and would assist those Licensing Authorities who have thus far been unable to execute the necessary systems to offer operational facilities to the applicant.
    2. Summaries of Licences

    • Summaries of licences extend in some cases to 7 pages. A summary should be a summary with one page to be displayed. It was never intended that the requirement to display a summary should mean that walls have to be papered with the summaries produced by Licensing Authorities.

    3. Automatic Grant of Licences

    • Some Licensing Authorities will not confirm applications are granted until the particular Licensing Officer whose responsibility for the delegated authority is available. This in some cases leads to delays of 2 weeks between the last day for representations and the Licensing Authority confirming the grant of the Premises Licence. This can have major implications for the applicant. There should be a default position that following the final day for representations if no representations are received by the Licensing Authority the application should automatically be granted.

    4. Advertising Applications in a local newspaper

    • Costs involved in advertising both Premises Licence and Variation Applications in local newspapers represents a significant cost implication for the Applicant. In some cases up to £500. Rarely is there a benefit to such advertising as the typeface is so small that communication with a readership is questionable. Applicants would be more than willing to ensure that notices are displayed sufficiently prominently to guarantee they are seen by the public.
    5. Signatures on Temporary Event Notices issued to the Licensing Authorities
    • Some Licensing Authorities will not accept instructed solicitors/representatives signature on Temporary Event Notices. Where electronic issue can be made for a Temporary Event Notice there is no requirement to have the Applicant’s signature and solicitors/representative’s signature on all applications should be accepted by Licensing Authorities.
    6. Plans changes
    • Minor changes to the layout of the licensable area of the premises have to be notified to Licensing Authorities by means of a minor variation. The applicant (where various changes have been made over time) is unsure which plan to refer to as the Premises Licence does not have the plan attached. The whole issue of the plans regulations need to be reviewed as often Licensing Authorities do not return a plan with the granted application.
    7. Regulations and penalties related to signage
    • Regulations and penalties related to signage in respect of no smoking in bars and clubs is now irrelevant as smokers are aware that they must leave premises in order to smoke. The Regulations relating to in particular the penalties for not displaying “no smoking” signs should be removed.

    8. Gaming Licensing Fees

    • Currently the gaming sector is significantly burdened by licensing fees and costs of applications to the Licensing Authority. Whilst the sector is now regulated by the Gambling Act 2005, the current cost burden is a major impediment to growth in this industry. A fee decrease in this area would provide a significant boast for the industry.

  • Alan Naughton said on May 27, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Licensing can be very burdensome for people living near these premises. The Licensing Officers are difficult to get hold of and appear to never be available when needed. You get past from pillar to post by Police and Licensing, and there are real difficulties when you try to complain. It has taken me nearly 10 years to get a British Legion Clun to run itself in a responsible manner. Licensing and the Police appeared uninterested and unable to deal with the issues and only through dogged determination did I finally get the club to be run on a professional and reasonable footing. Because of its staus the authorities appeared powerless to deal with the issues, until things got so bad that they (Police and Council Licensing) were dragged kicking and screaming to the Licensing panel. Then they held a hearing in private without inviting the complainants and came to a cosy understanding with the club. The Public should not be made to jump through hoops to get things done and the present laws should be scrapped completely. Its only the Licensing trade/lobby that think they are working. there once was a time when Licensees had to be of a certain standing, now any tom dick or harry can run a club/pub, licenses are dished out like confetti to placate the Brewery trade. Complete lack of will and control on the part of the Authorities does not assist when you have issues.

  • Daniel Johnson said on May 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    As a member of the Musicians Union (MU) I remain of the opinion that the inclusion of regulated entertainment (live music) 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 myself and other 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.

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