Posted by Woods Whur | Alcohol, General, Licensing Law, Woods Whur

Things are really tough out there at the moment and my colleagues at Woods Whur have looked at some of the pressing issues currently being faced.

At times like this it is important that we all pull together and help one another get through, there are lots of examples out there on social media and in the news.

It is also important in periods such as these to remind ourselves of the lighter side of the sector we work in and to try to find some humour where we can.

With that in mind we have put together a list of our top 5 silly licensing conditions.

**Switches on Pick of the Pops Music**

Coming in at number 5 we have No Boogie Wonderland with “there shall be no dedicated dancefloor.”

An odd condition this that really achieves nothing at all. What is a “dedicated dancefloor” when it’s at home? If only this was imposed at Elstree Studios we could get rid of Strictly Come Dancing for good!

That is closely followed at number 4 by “the DPS shall be at the premises at all times the premises are authorised to be open” by Night & Day.

This actually appeared on a 24 hour premises licence in London effectively requiring the imprisonment of the DPS within the venue forever.

At 3 are The Doors with “All doors and windows shall remain closed during regulated entertainment.”

When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar! The oldies really are the best and clearly nobody considered what would happen if a customer needed to make use of a door! And not just any door – ALL THE DOORS!

It was a close run thing for number 1 spot this week and flying in at number 2 is “there shall be no vertical drinking” by Harry and the Horizontal Drinkers.

This condition has always baffled slightly when there are other ways of achieving the same aim; ones that don’t place the power of whether or not a premises licence holder commits a criminal offence squarely in the hand of the customer. Stand up and finish your drink and you might finish off the premises!

And finally pop pickers, our number 1 silly condition is “customers will be local people” by The Yokels, which is the follow up to their previous hit “you’re not from around here are you?”

There’s our top 5. There are many, many, more and we’re always delighted (and secretly disturbed) to hear new examples.

Putting our serious hat back on what all of these aberrations highlight is the need for thought and clarity when drafting licence conditions. The Section 182 guidance (1.16) is very clear on the do’s and don’ts of licence conditions. We would add the following bullet points to 1.16:

  • Shouldn’t be cut & paste from the applicant’s operating schedule;
  • Shouldn’t try to be too clever; and
  • Should beware the law of unintended consequences.

What do we mean by this?

Well, take the example of the “locals” condition above. This has clearly been lifted from section M of an applicant’s application form. It’s not a condition, but rather an aspirational statement.

The condition about doors is a condition that is trying to be too clever, but no thought has been given to how customers are to get into and out of the premises. More importantly the condition doesn’t define which doors so, as silly as this sounds, it could apply to the fridge or the dishwasher in the same way it applies to the entrance to the premises!

Finally, the condition about the DPS being on the premises forever is an example of the law of unintended consequences. It is clear that what the condition wants to achieve, but what it actually achieves is permanent tethering to the premises! And we thought DPS’ had it tough already!

If you need help drafting effective conditions, whether you are an operator or a licensing authority, we are but a phone call away.

And don’t forget, if you have concerns about any conditions on your licence, silly or not, and your ability to comply with them then talk to us. It could be that they are not enforceable, not legal or not relevant to your style of operation. We might be able to remove them, even by a simple minor variation, and modernize your licence.