I have seen a recent increase in concerns over “bottomless brunches” or “bottomless prosecco” promotions at a number of licensed premises. This resulted in a recent case where the Police were threatening to prosecute an operator client of mine for breach of a mandatory condition. However, these were quality premises, offering food with the promotion, with no suggestion of any negative impact from what had become a popular attraction. The premises were well managed, the promotion was well supervised and there had been no reports of drunkenness as a result of the promotion. We entered into a long series of discussions with the Police who were very uncomfortable about the bottomless brunch. We helped the operator draft a guidance document for all staff to be trained on how to manage the promotion and finally the Police accepted that this was not an irresponsible promotion.

Where are we then with how irresponsible promotions are defined and should be avoided by operators? The principle of an irresponsible promotion was introduced into licensing legislation through the mandatory conditions attached to all premises licences which authorise the sale of alcohol.

The Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010 (“the 2010 Order”) set out five new conditions that apply to all premises in England and Wales authorised to supply alcohol under a premises licence or club premises certificate. The first three of these conditions came into force on 6 April 2010. This included the condition dealing with irresponsible promotions.

The Home Office issued a specific Guidance document in 2014 which helps with understanding the reasoning behind these conditions and this can be found at the link below:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/350507/2014-08-29_MC_Guidance_v1_0.pdf

The relevant sections of the Guidance document state as follows:

The 2014 Order states that the responsible person must ensure that staff on relevant premises do not carry out, arrange or participate in any irresponsible promotion, as listed below, where that promotion is carried on for the purpose of encouraging the sale of alcohol on the premises.

Drinking games

This includes any game or activity that requires or encourages (or is designed to require or encourage) individuals to drink a quantity of alcohol within a time limit, or to drink as much as possible. This does not include “drinking up time”, shortly before the end of licensed hours.

The application of this prohibition is not subject to a judgement of risk, and so any game or activity that falls within it would be in breach of the condition.

Examples of this type of activity include drinking relay races and drinking challenges based on quantity.

Provision of alcohol free or for a fixed or discounted fee. This prohibits the provision of an unlimited or unspecified quantity of alcohol for free or for a fixed or discounted fee if there is a significant risk that such provision would undermine a licensing objective.

Rewards for consumption of alcohol

The new conditions ban the provision of free or discounted alcohol or any other thing as a prize to encourage or reward the consumption of alcohol over a period of 24 hours or less if there is a significant risk that such provision would undermine a licensing objective.

‘Significant risk’

The application of these prohibitions is subject to an assessment in any case about whether the activity in question would give rise to a significant risk of breaching one or more of the four licensing objectives:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder;
  • Public safety;
  • The prevention of public nuisance; and
  • The protection of children from harm.

Factors that may be considered when deciding if a promotion is irresponsible may include:

  • Type of promotion:

o How big is the discount?

o For how long does the discount apply?

  • Potential customers:

o Is there likely to be a significant increase in the number of customers?

o What is the profile of the customer base?

  • Type of premises:

o Is it a high-volume vertical drinking establishment or a community pub?

  • History of premises:

o Have previous promotions been handled responsibly?

o Has the licence been reviewed recently?

o Have sufficient security measures been taken for any potential increase in the number of customers?

If there is any doubt as to whether the promotion the operator is planning to run falls foul of this new mandatory condition, The Home Office strongly recommends that the operator discusses its proposals with its local licensing authority and/or police before running the promotion.

So the Guidance is pretty helpful in setting out what the Home Office believes are factors which will indicate whether the promotions are irresponsible. This is a judgement call. It does not mean that, per se, a bottomless brunch or prosecco hour is automatically irresponsible. The criteria above, if followed, can ensure there is not a “significant risk” to the licensing objectives being compromised and therefore the promotion would be legitimate and permissible.

The most recent version of the S182 Guidance also deals with the issue.

Para 10.39 states:

Under this condition, the “responsible person” (defined in the 2003 Act as the holder of a premises licence, designated premises supervisor, a person aged 18 or over who is authorised to allow the sale or supply of alcohol by an under 18 or a member or officer of a club present on the club premises who can oversee the supply of alcohol) should be able to demonstrate that they have ensured that staff do not carry out, arrange or participate in any irresponsible promotions. An irresponsible promotion is one that fits one of the descriptions below (or is substantially similar), is carried on for the purpose of encouraging the sale or supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises. The aim of the condition is to prohibit or restrict promotions which encourage people to drink more than they might ordinarily do and in a manner which undermines the licensing objectives.

Drinking games

10.40 Drinking games which require or encourage individuals to drink a quantity of alcohol within a time limit, or drink as much alcohol as possible within a time limit or otherwise, are prohibited. For example, this may include organised ‘drink downing’ competitions. This would not prevent the responsible person from requiring all drinks to be consumed or abandoned at, or before, the closing time of the premises. Nor does it necessarily prohibit ‘happy hours’ as long as these are not designed to encourage individuals to drink excessively or rapidly.

Large quantities of alcohol for free or a fixed price

10.41 Irresponsible promotions can include the provision of unlimited or unspecified quantities of alcohol free or for a fixed or discounted price, where there is a significant risk that such a promotion would undermine one or more of the licensing objectives. This includes alcohol provided to the public or to a group defined by a particular characteristic, for example, a promotion which offers women free drinks before a certain time or “all you can drink for £10”. Promotions can be designed with a particular group in mind (for example, over 65s). A common sense approach is encouraged, which may include specifying the quantity of alcohol included in it or not targeting a group which could become more vulnerable or present a greater risk of crime and disorder as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.

Prizes and rewards

10.42 The sale, supply or provision of free or discounted alcohol or any other item as a prize to encourage or reward the purchase and consumption of alcohol can be within the definition of an irresponsible promotion, where there is a significant risk that such a promotion would undermine one or more of the licensing objectives. This may include promotions under which free or discounted alcohol is offered as a part of the sale of alcohol, for example, “Buy one and get two free” and “Buy one cocktail and get a second cocktail for 25p”. This includes promotions which involve the provision of free or discounted alcohol within the same 24 hour period.

So the original Guidance and the most recent Statutory Guidance is particularly helpful. If properly managed and supervised, then these are nor irresponsible promotions. The key phrase from the Guidance is perhaps, “A common sense approach is encouraged, which may include specifying the quantity of alcohol included in it or not targeting a group which could become more vulnerable or present a greater risk of crime and disorder as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.”

So, think it through. Plan ahead. Advertise carefully. Have a training and supervision plan prepared. Make sure what you are doing does not pose a significant risk to the licensing objectives and everything should be fine. Should you encounter any difficulties as an operator or an enforcement agency, then do not hesitate to contact me to discuss the issues that have arisen.

There are two certainties in life as a licensing lawyer. The first, enquiries for Temporary Event Notices for Christmas extensions are generally received on the 15 December. The second is the sun comes out in June and clients then enquire about using outside areas.

I find it particularly frustrating that a lot of operators do not give any forward planning in relation to using outside areas. We have had a significant number of enquiries from operators in the last few weeks relating to using outside areas as the weather has improved.

The process can be torturous, lengthy and needs forward planning. I was pleased to see that in the recent April 2018 version of the Section 182 Guidance document, issued by the Home Office, that the issue of outside areas has been covered, for the first time.

Beer gardens or other outdoor spaces

 8.35 Applicants will want to consider whether they might want to use a garden or other outdoor space as a location from which alcohol will be consumed. The sale of alcohol is to be treated as taking place where the alcohol is appropriated to the contract. In scenarios where drink orders are taken by a member of staff in the garden or outdoor space and the member of staff then collects the drinks from the licensed premises and returns to deliver them to the customer this would be treated as an off-sale and any conditions that relate to off-sales would apply.

8.36 In such cases it will be not necessary to include the garden or other outdoor space on the plan as part of the area covered by the premises licence. However, it will be necessary for the applicant to include the garden or other outdoor space on the plan as part of the area covered by the premises licence if the intention is to provide a service whereby drinks are available for sale and consumption directly from that area (i.e. the provision of on-sales). This would apply in the case of an outdoor bar or a service whereby a member of staff who is in the garden or outdoor space carries with them drinks that are available for sale (without the need for the staff member to return to the licensed premises to collect them).

8.37 If the beer garden or other outdoor area is to be used for the consumption of off-sales only, there is no requirement to show it on the plan of the premises, but the prescribed Revised Guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 I 55 application form requires the applicant to provide a description of where the place is and its proximity to the premises.

This is a helpful starting point. We have had to argue with some Licensing Authorities on the issue of outside areas but the change in the introduction of paragraphs 8.35 to 8.37 clarifies the position.

For the avoidance of doubt:

  • The sale of alcohol is to be treated as taking place where the alcohol is appropriated to the contract;
  • If drink orders are taken by a member of staff in the garden or outdoor space and collects them from the licensed premises, this is an off-sale;
  • In these cases it is not necessary to include the garden or outdoor space in the licence plan; and
  • If there is an intention to have a service position where drinks are available for sale and consumption from that area then the space would need to be included on the plan as there would be a licensable activity.

That clarifies the position in relation to plans and what needs to be submitted with an application.

However, if premises are already licensed and the operator wishes to look at using an outside area there are a number of issues that need to be considered. These are:

  • Does the licence authorise the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises? If not, a variation will need to take place and this will be a full variation (28 days’ notice period);
  • Are there any conditions on the premises licence dealing with how off-sales are to be allowed? It may well be that these would need to be varied by way of a full variation (28 days’ notice period);
  • Is the area that you intend to use for consumption in the ownership of the operator? If it is there would need to be a further application made; and
  • If the area isn’t within your demise and, instead, is on Local Authority highway land, there would need to be an application for a pavement licence (in some places called a tables and chairs licence).

Pavement licence/tables and chairs licence

This is where the process can slow down significantly. If you have an aspiration to use an outside area which is on Local Authority land then you need to be thinking of making your application well before the weather improves. Most Authorities now have particularly prescriptive application processes which can take a considerable amount of time (up to two months). Often, applications have to go before a Panel of the Local Authority. The application process will no doubt be prescriptive, in that it will ask for artists’ impressions of the area, showing where any provision of seating and screening will be situated. More importantly, there will be a requirement to provide proof of public liability insurance and ensure that the furniture/screening complies with any requirements that the Local Authority may impose.

It is at this stage that significant delays might arise in reaching agreement with the Local Authority and ensuring that all of their relevant policies are complied with.

Most Authorities have now cottoned on to how much they can charge for pavement licences and we have seen a significant increase in the cost of these licences in areas where the Local Authority know that they will be profitable.

I would urge all operators to consider consulting a licensing lawyer in good time to ensure that permissions are not delayed until the nights are drawing in.

I would be delighted to answer any specific questions on outside areas should you have any.

As readers will recall from my previous articles, the Government has knocked back most of the changes which were recommended after the House of Lords’ review of the Licensing Act 2003.  However, the Government did suggest that a number of changes could be introduced via the section 182 Guidance which now seems to be reviewed annually by the Home Office. On close reading of the new Guidance, only a small number of the proposed changes has been incorporated in this revision, but they are important changes, nonetheless.

The first change in the revised section 182 Guidance document is that the Regulators’ Code under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 is included as a document for all parties to give consideration to.

The first new section in the guidance is at paragraph 8.3.8 – 8.40, headed “Entitlement to work in the UK”.  Three additional paragraphs have been added to the Guidance document, which give clear advice as to the evidence that needs to be adduced to satisfy Licensing Authorities that individuals applying for premises licences for the sale of alcohol or late night refreshment are entitled to work in the UK.

One area where we have had inconsistency across the country is what needs to happen with outdoor areas when applying for a new premises licence. Hopefully the new additional paragraphs below will now remove this inconsistency.

Beer gardens or other outdoor spaces

8.35 Applicants will want to consider whether they might want to use a garden or other outdoor space as a location from which alcohol will be consumed. The sale of alcohol is to be treated as taking place where the alcohol is appropriated to the contract. In scenarios where drink orders are taken by a member of staff in the garden or outdoor space and the member of staff then collects the drinks from the licensed premises and returns to deliver them to the customer this would be treated as an off-sale and any conditions that relate to off-sales would apply.

8.36 In such cases it will be not necessary to include the garden or other outdoor space on the plan as part of the area covered by the premises licence. However, it will be necessary for the applicant to include the garden or other outdoor space on the plan as part of the area covered by the premises licence if the intention is to provide a service whereby drinks are available for sale and consumption directly from that area (i.e. the provision of on-sales). This would apply in the case of an outdoor bar or a service whereby a member of staff who is in the garden or outdoor space carries with them drinks that are available for sale (without the need for the staff member to return to the licensed premises to collect them).

8.37 If the beer garden or other outdoor area is to be used for the consumption of off-sales only, there is no requirement to show it on the plan of the premises, but the prescribed application form requires the applicant to provide a description of where the place is and its proximity to the premises.

The first really significant change is at paragraph 9.12 of the Guidance.  In the previous version of the Guidance, issued in April 2017, the Police had retained their position as having heightened status in making representations under the crime and disorder licensing objective.

The heading “representations from Police” has now been incorporated into the section “the role of responsible authorities”.  This new paragraph 9.12 has now been re-written to read as follows:

Each responsible authority will be an expert in their respective field, and in some cases, it is likely that a particular responsible authority will be the licensing authority’s main source of advice in relation to a particular licensing objective.  For example, the Police have a key role in managing the night time economy and should have good working relationships with those operating in their local area.  The Police should usually therefore be the licensing authority’s main source of advice on matters relating to the promotion of the crime and disorder licensing objective.  However, any responsible authority under the 2003 Act may make representations with regard to any of the licensing objectives, if they have evidence to support such representations.  The Licensing Authority must therefore consider all relevant representations from responsible authorities carefully, even where the reason for a particular responsible authority’s interest or expertise in the promotion of a particular objective may not be immediately apparent.  However, it remains incumbent on all responsible authorities to ensure that their representations can withstand the scrutiny to which they would be subject at a hearing”.

This marks a significant departure from the previous position, whereby only the Police were given a heightened status in relation to their representations.

It appears from the rewording of paragraph 9.12 that representations made by the Police have been downgraded from the heightened position that they enjoyed previously, and that now all responsible authority representations fall to be considered in a similar light.

The next additional paragraph in the document is at paragraph 13.11 in the appeals section to the guidance.  This states:

It is important that licensing authorities also provide all parties who were party to the original hearing, but not involved directly in the appeal, with clear reasons for any subsequent decisions where appeals are settled out of court.  Local residents in particular, who have attended a hearing where the decision was subject to an appeal, are likely to expect the final determination to be made by a court”.

It is my experience that there has been a distinct lack of voluntary compliance in this regard, and it is interesting that this has now been set out in the section 182 Guidance.

We have been involved in many cases where appeals have been settled without the original objecting residents being involved in the process.  In all of my appeals where I have represented the London Borough of Newham, we have always looked at any compromised position in an inclusive manner with residential objectors, to see whether they agree to the compromised position being resolved by a consent order, thus avoiding the need for court time of an effective appeal.

There has been a considerable redrafting of the section of the Guidance dealing with cumulative impact polices.  It is worth reading this whole new section.  In particular, paragraphs 14.24 to 14.28 have seen significant change.  Paragraph 14.34 of the new Guidance replaces paragraph 14.29 and is more prescriptive in the guidance given in relation to the steps to be taken in publishing a cumulative impact assessment.

A new section has been introduced, entitled “reviewing the CIA”.  Paragraphs 14.35 to 14.38 detail the steps that a Licensing Authority should take when reviewing the cumulative impact policy applying to a particular area.  A number of changes have also been highlighted within the section “effect of cumulative impact assessments”.  This replaces the section “effect of special policies”.  The two sets of paragraphs need to be read side by side in order to understand the Guidance properly.

We were promised changes after the House of Lords’ review and a careful assessment of the current section 182 Guidance is advisable before making any applications in cumulative impact policy areas.

So, all in all, there have been fairly modest changes to the latest iteration of the section 182 Guidance document.  Nonetheless, some of these changes do have an impact on the licensing process and are worthy of careful attention. To view the full revised Guidance click on the link below, and feel free to email me to help with any specific enquiries:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/702660/Revised_guidance_issued_under_section_182_of_the_Licensing_Act_2003__April_2018_.pdf

In this article, Andy Woods looks at the new version of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (“LCCP”) and, in particular, highlights some of the key changes.

In many ways the LCCP should be the heartbeat of any gambling business and should form the basis of policies and procedures implemented by all gambling operators.  The Gambling Commission (“GC”) defines the LCCP as setting out “the requirements you must meet in order to hold your operating licence and your personal licence.  It is a very important part of running your business…”

It is a general requirement of the LCCP that all operators keep themselves up to date with any changes to legislation and to the LCCP and it is extremely important that operators understand that the LCCP is a changing document and updates and that amendments are made regularly, to take into account developments and innovations in the industry and to set out the most effective way of promoting the licensing objectives, in particular, promoting social responsible gambling.

The LCCP is not a “one size fits all” document, as there are sector specific sections and, if at all possible, the GC will make it clear what it expects operators to achieve in certain policies and procedures but allows them to write their own policies and procedures to deal with its requirements.  What is relevant to a Mayfair Casino dealing with high stake customers may not be relevant to an operator who only trades one betting shop.  However, the general principles that both will have to abide by remain the same.

The latest LCCP came into effect on 4 April 2018 and there are particular changes relating to Society Lotteries and the regulatory data that is to be provided to the Gambling Commission.  These were the two matters that the Gambling Commission consulted on in 2017.  There have also been minor changes to the social responsibility code provisions 3.5.3 and 3.5.4 and an update to the reference for the online portal for information at 15.3.1.

  1. The requirement to report the number of Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”) on regulatory returns has been removed and the information on discounted relationships will be collected through the key events reporting mechanism (via the eService Portal on the GC website). This change to the LCCP requires discounted relationships to be reported alongside information on SARs as key events.
  2. Information about game faults which result in over- or under-payment to customers needs to be reported as a key event.
  3. The existing requirement to report group advertising to a new jurisdiction has been widened to include a new requirement to report where there has been sustained/meaningful generation of the 3%/10% threshold being passed for the wider group.
  4. The definition of “low frequency lottery” has been updated to include those lotteries offered by local authorities.
  5. A new social responsibility code provision has been added to require operators to publish the proportion of lottery proceeds returned to the purposes of the society or local authority.

I am sure that some of the above points will come up at our seminar at The Hippodrome Casino on 8 May 2018.  There are still a few places available and if you would like to come please contact sarah@woodswhur.co.uk.

If you have any questions in the meantime on the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

This article looks at the Government’s decision to extend licensing hours to mark the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018 but notes that the extension only applies to the sale of alcohol.

Earlier this year, the Government consulted as to whether or not to extend licensing hours for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018 and after the consultation period ended, the Government decided to make an Order to extend licensing hours on the following dates and times:

  • 11:00pm on Friday 18 May to 01:00am on Saturday 19 May
  • 11:00pm on Saturday 19 May to 01:00am on Sunday 20 May.

It is to be noted however, that the effect of this Order allows licensed premises to remain open until 01:00am for the sale of alcohol but it does not apply to the sale of hot food or provision of regulated entertainment.

Any restaurant, therefore, that wishes to stay open later and use the extended hours  may have to apply for a Temporary Event Notice if it wishes to sell hot food and similarly, advice will have to be taken as to whether any exemptions under the Live Music Act 2012 apply, or whether an application for a Temporary Event Notice is required for entertainment.

In announcing the decision, Amber Rudd said: “The Royal Wedding is a chance for communities across the Country to join together and celebrate this momentously happy occasion for our Royal Family and for our nation.  As shown by the support for the proposal to extend licensing hours, it is clear that the public back the idea of having more time to raise a glass to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on a day of national celebration”.

The Home Secretary has special powers to allow licensing hours to be extended for a celebration period to mark an occasion of exceptional international, or local, significance and since the power was introduced in 2003, it has been used a number of times, including on the occasion ofthe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in July 2012 and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations in 2016.

If anyone requires advice as to whether or not a Temporary Event Notice is required on this occasion for the sale of hot food or provision of regulated entertainment, please contact me at andrew@woodswhur.co.uk.

As my current workload has been largely wrapped up with live music venues and festivals, I am very pleased to say that I have resolved issues on behalf of Shindig Weekender with the Licensing Authority and objectors in Yeovil.

My clients had attended a Licensing Sub-Committee for this year’s premises licence for the Shindig Weekender in May. As a result of opposition received from Councillors and residents, the hours of the premises licence were pulled back, to such an extent that the festival was about to be put at risk. If the hours had not been rectified, there was a real risk that my clients would not have been able to hold the festival that they wanted to, and this could have had a big impact on festival-goers attending Weekender.

Shindig Weekender is one of the Country’s few genuinely “boutique” festivals, presenting an opportunity to experience acts up close and personal.

This year’s line-up includes Soul II Soul, Stereo MCs, Mr. Scruff, Norman Jay and a huge undercard of fabulous talent.

As well as this, there will be a comedy and cabaret tent which is headlined by Phill Jupitus.

The event had sold out and there was obviously  a significant fear that, with the reduced hours, the line-up would not all be able to play at the times the organisers wished.

I was instructed after the initial Sub-Committee decision.

We lodged an appeal immediately to Yeovil Magistrates’ Court and were under considerable time pressure to resolve the issues to allow Weekender’s hours to be advertised and for the event to take place as promoted.

Fortunately, the Council were particularly proactive and were agreeable to meeting us on a “without prejudice” basis to discuss whether we could settle the appeal without the need for a contested hearing. None of the responsible authorities had objected to the application and there were a small number of local residents and one Councillor who had persuaded the Licensing Sub-Committee to prune the hours of the event. I am delighted that my clients’ acoustic expert and the very helpful Environmental Health Officer of Yeovil Council worked together to improve the event management plan in relation to the event and, in particular, the potential for noise nuisance from the festival.

A significant amount of work had to be undertaken very quickly but as a result of this, the Authority were persuaded to compromise the appeal and allow the hours that were applied for to be substituted for the shorter hours that had been granted at the Licensing Sub-Committee hearing.

This was a fabulous example of all parties working together to negotiate a workable resolution, without the need for a matter going to a contested hearing at the Magistrates’ Court. I hope everybody has a fabulous time at the Shindig Weekender in May.

Contested hearings are always stressful, but when it is the first hearing for a new client, that adds significantly to the challenge. I have just being successful in extending the hours at the Tramshed, one of MJR Group’s major venues, against Environmental Heath, Police and Ward Councillors and local resident opposition.

The MJR Group is an events promotion and venue development company based in Bristol. They manage and own multiple venues in major UK cities, as well as promoting touring productions and festivals throughout the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and Ireland. They are one of my most interesting recent new client acquisitions and I am delighted to be acting for them. The MJR Group operate from the following venues:

  • The Engine Rooms, Southampton;
  • Marble Factor, Bristol;
  • Motion, Bristol;
  • The Globe, Cardiff;
  • Tramshed, Cardiff;
  • Dingwalls, Camden;
  • Plug, Sheffield; and
  • The Assembly, Leamington Spa

Our application for the Tramshed in Cardiff was to extend the hours of operation from Midnight to 3AM on 20 occasions a year to allow Club Nights to be operated at the venue, with quality, high-end DJ talent being booked for these events.

The company has invested over £1m in the refit of the Tramshed, which is a phenomenal premises on the outskirts of the City Centre in Cardiff. The former Tramshed had been derelict for a significant number of years before MJR Group took it over and invested heavily in it. The Police, residents and Ward Councillors had concerns that our extension in hours would not promote the licensing objectives of:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder;
  • The prevention of public nuisance; and
  • The promotion of public safety

The Police produced evidence of dispersal issues arising from the premises when live music events are finishing at midnight.

I was able to explain to the Licensing Sub-Committee that there would be significantly less impact from the events that my client wished to offer, on the basis that there would be a much more gradual dispersal from the premises from a club night than a live music event. The issue with live music events is that there is an immediate finish to the concert, with up to 1200 people leaving the venue very quickly. This wouldn’t be the case with the extended hours events, where there would be a much more gradual dispersal from the premises.

In addition, as a result of the application, my clients had agreed to offer a significant number of additional conditions to assist in promoting the licensing objectives. On top of all of this, they had devised significant new dispersal policies with the use of a rear area for taxi pick-up points and creating a new dispersal zone towards the City Centre and away from residential properties. Whilst the police still opposed our application, they were very fair during the hearing, telling the Licensing Authority that, although they didn’t think the extension in hours would promote the licensing objectives, they felt that the premises were not problematic, on the whole.

The incidents of crime and disorder at the premises were significantly low for the number of people that the premises have seen coming through the doors in the last 2 and half years since they have opened. The Licensing Sub-Committee felt, on balance, that they could allow the application in the terms that we sought, as long as the additional conditions that we offered were attached to the premises licence.

My clients offered to meet with Ward Councillors and residents to explain the nature of the operation of the premises and seek advice from the residents as to improving dispersal and preventing any nuisance issues arising from the premises. I am certain that this proactive approach toward the local residents and Ward Councillors will bear fruit, not only in reducing incidents of public nuisance, but also in securing the premises’ future as a community hub, as well as a live music venue.

The legal battle between the Scotch Whisky Association (“SWA”) and the Scottish Government over minimum unit pricing (“MUP”) of alcohol has been rumbling on for over five years, but the Supreme Court finally “scotched” the SWA challenge on Wednesday, the case having already made its way through the highest court in Scotland and the European Court of Justice.

Following a hearing in July, the seven Supreme Court Justices unanimously dismissed the SWA challenge to the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 and the resultant draft Order proposing a minimum unit price of 50 pence, neither of which have been implemented pending the outcome of this case. In so doing they rejected the SWA’s argument that this minimum pricing proposal is disproportionate and a restraint of trade, therefore illegal under European law.

In what has been described by Edinburgh minsters as an “historic and far-reaching judgment”, the Court decided that minimum pricing “is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. The SWA had argued that there were better ways of achieving that aim, but the Court disagreed.

According to the Institute for Alcohol Studies, a small number of countries, including Russia and Canada, and some US States, have some form of minimum pricing, but nevertheless this ruling paves the way for Scotland to be the first nation in the world to introduce MUP.

Needless to say, the decision was welcomed by Scottish ministers. Health Secretary Shona Robison said it was “ a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland’s troubled relationship with alcohol.” She referred to statistics that demonstrate that, in the period since the legislation was originally passed, the rates of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland have increased. She vowed that the Scottish Government would now press on with implementation of the policy “as quickly as possible” and said that she will shortly make a statement to Holyrood on next steps, including the timetable for introducing the new measure.

It’s estimated that alcohol misuse in Scotland results in 670 hospital admissions and 24 deaths a week, death rates being one and a half times what they were in the early 1980s. This is borne out by the 2016 figure for alcohol-related deaths of 1,265, 10% up on the previous year. Alcohol misuse is also calculated as costing Scotland £3.6 billion a year, which equates to a surprisingly high figure of £900 for every adult. Figures for 2016 show that 17% more alcohol was sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales.

Of course, to quote Mark Twain, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics” and figures can always be called upon in support of a particular narrative. The questions that spring to mind are: what will the minimum unit price of 50p achieve, and what will it mean in practice?

Research conducted by Sheffield University calculates that the 50 pence minimum unit price will result in 121 fewer deaths a year after 20 years. At first sight, this appears a small achievement after such a prolonged period of time, but the same study points to a drop in hospital admissions related to alcohol by over 2,000 per year in two decades’ time.

As far as the impacts on the trade are concerned, the measure seems much more likely to affect off-licences and supermarkets than the on-trade. Similarly, it will have a widely differing impact on various drinks types and products, depending on the quantities in which they are sold and, obviously, their alcohol by volume (“ABV”). By way of example, a three litre bottle of super-strength cider, at an ABV of 7.5% and containing 22.5 units of alcohol, will leap in price from £3.99 to £11.25, on the basis of research conducted by the Dundee Evening Telegraph. By contrast, a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon red wine would only see a modest price increase – typically from £4.39 in a supermarket to £4.90 – once MUP comes in. More expensive wines and premium spirits, which are already priced above the minimum requirement per unit, will be unaffected. The price of mainstream lager brands in small amounts (typically, 4 packs) will remain broadly the same but purchasers in bulk (of packs of 12, say) will find themselves paying up to 20% more.

What of the whisky trade, who were the challengers to this proposal, bringing about the 5 year delay in it getting the green light? Calculations suggest that consumers will be unable to get their hands on a bottle for less than £14, which is markedly higher than the price currently offered on some brands by some supermarket promotions.

MUP should not trouble the on-trade, where drinks are currently priced above the minimum threshold anyway. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether England and Wales follow the Scottish example. A UK Government spokeswoman said that the decision of the Supreme Court had been noted and that “minimum pricing will continue to remain under review pending the impact of its implementation in Scotland”. It is clear that the UK administration as a whole plans to continue to seek to control what it perceives as excessive alcohol consumption via taxation and pricing.

In the meantime, the SWA has said that it accepts the ruling of the Supreme Court, and that it will continue to work with the Scottish Government and others to promote responsible drinking and prevent alcohol-related harm, while at the same time looking “to the Scottish and UK Governments to support the [whisky] industry against the negative effects of trade barriers being raised in overseas markets that discriminate against Scottish whisky as a consequence of minimum pricing, and to argue for fair competition on our behalf”.

We will of course update you if we get any hint of the adoption of a minimum unit pricing policy elsewhere in the UK.

It is vitally important that you check specific hours on your Premises Licence for Sundays as both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on a Sunday in 2017. The terminal hour for a Sunday can be earlier than other nights of the week on many Premises Licences throughout the United Kingdom. Some local policies have Sunday closing hours as early as a 10:30pm or 11:00pm, so you may need a Temporary Event Notice to trade to your desired time on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Some licences will specify hours for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve which may be later than the standard Sunday hours but not all licences will do so.   You must check your licence as soon as possible and as a matter of policy, ensure that any request for a Temporary Event Notice is sent to us before the end of November 2017. It may also be a good idea to think about applying to vary your non-standard timings to include later hours for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve if your licence does not already have the benefit of the longer hours.

If you require more information, want us to apply for a Temporary Event Notice or a variation then please contact us either at info@woodswhur.co.uk or by contacting the person responsible for your work.

I was delighted to represent Arc Inspirations Limited as a party in the Appeal by J D Wetherspoon PLC against the decision of Leeds City Council to refuse it a new premises licence for the former Elinor Lupton Centre in Headingley.

The Elinor Lupton Centre, being part of the old Leeds Girls High School, sits in a residential area away from the commercial centre of Headingley. A number of residents and Arc Inspirations had objected to the grant of a premises licence for the site. On 29 November 2016 Leeds Licensing Authority’s Licensing Sub-Committee heard the application by J D Wetherspoon PLC and refused to grant it a licence.

District Judge Mallon had accepted my submissions that my client, Arc Inspirations Limited, should be allowed to be an interested party and I represented Arc’s interests at the Appeal. The main issues which Arc wished me to bring out, in support of the residents who also objected, centered around the potential for an increase in crime and disorder, were the application to be granted, through a change to the Otley Run (an organised pub crawl through Headingley) and the impact on major match days at the Headingley Rugby League and Cricket grounds.

My clients chair the Headingley Pubwatch and were deeply concerned that the introduction of a 500 capacity premises in the location applied for could have a significant effect on the overall management of licensed premises in the area. Having led Pubwatch for a number of years and having formed strategies for all operators to comply with in relation to the Otley Run, there were significant concerns that premises such as these could significantly reverse the positive steps that had been achieved.

The case came before District Judge Mallon and Stephen Walsh QC represented the Appellant, with Sarah Clover representing Leeds City Council.

After hearing all of the evidence and submissions on behalf of all parties, District Judge Mallon determined that the licence should not be granted, and therefore dismissed the Appeal. In her judgment she set out that the premises fell within the Headingley Cumulative Impact Policy Area which establishes a rebuttable presumption that new grants of premises licences will be refused, unless the applicant can demonstrate that a grant would not exacerbate the cumulative impact already suffered in the area.

The District Judge found that a 500 capacity premises so close to major sporting stadia and in the heart of the Otley Run would have a negative impact on the licensing objectives. She went on to say: “this brings the Court to what it perceives to be the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the Appellant’s case – it does not want to be a student pub and wants to appeal to local residents, yet two-thirds of these are students; it wants to bring in customers from elsewhere, but has a car park with 17 spaces; it wants to encourage a food-led approach whilst offering shots at 3 for £5. The Court does not doubt the honesty of the Appellant’s case, but it is contradicted by the evidence; and, of course, this analysis is not assisted by the evidence of how the business would respond on the occasions of one or other of the sports grounds hosting a match, with the huge increase in trade that would bring”.

I was delighted with the decision of District Judge Mallon and the fact that, in her reasons, she incorporated many of the issues that I had raised in submissions and cross examination of the witnesses.

I have always been of the view that these premises do not lend themselves to being such a high capacity public house, when the impact would be felt by residents and given the potential for an increase in crime and disorder in the wider area, as a result of major sport events and the Otley Run taking place.