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What a difference a week makes

Last Friday I had a meeting in Manchester followed by a client lunch where we were pre-occupied with discussing how our businesses were going to cope with the Coronavirus outbreak. None of us realised that a week later, the leisure and gambling industries would be so badly affected or by the pace of change. I didn’t anticipate then that I would have asked all of my staff to start working from home and put us into almost isolation. Technology is a wonderful thing and it is amazing that we can keep our business going through remote access to our systems. This doesn’t come anywhere near to the social interaction that we have through the workplace.

A usual Friday morning in the office, in dress down clothing and with a fantastic breakfast sandwich from Nosh, is one of the best days of the working week.

So much has changed at such speed.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, all of our outstanding hearings at licensing authorities around the Country were stood down. These were some review hearings and some premises licence applications that had valid representations. In all of those cases we have been told that the likelihood is that these will not be relisted until after May. This is obviously going to put breaks on the development plans of a number of companies. We also have a number of applications which are currently running through their notice periods and if they receive valid representations, it is in doubt a hearing on those particular will be listed.

I did notice last night that Wandsworth Council held a remote hearing where technology was used to get everybody to remotely log into the hearing.

I have had this previously where I was permitted to dial into a summary review interim steps hearing even though I was away on holiday. It just shows that there is the ability and technology to set this up should we enter a prolonged period of isolation. Gary Grant, the Licensing Specialist Barrister from FTB Chambers, wrote an excellent article entitled ‘Licensing hearings during the Coronvirus crisis.’ This article set out the fact that there is an ability for remote hearings to take place. He highlights that there is no legal bar to holding a Licensing Sub-Committee using remote technology. This will be practically very difficult, albeit legally possible, in that most authority areas have started to send their staff home to work remotely as well. This is to continue and the likelihood is that applications will be adjourned rather than more remote hearings.

There are clearly significant operational issues that come about whilst premises are still open. It is critical that the licensing objectives are promoted by operators who choose to stay open and conditions on premises licences will need to be complied with. If anyone has any confusion of where we are on this then please contact us directly by mobile number or email.

In addition, the Business Crime Hub from the Metropolitan Police Service have sent out a very helpful note in relation to their position moving through unprecedented times.

Our colleagues in Scotland have been grappling with the issues as well and Glasgow City Council have sent out a very clear “advice and guidance for current licence holders and new applicants on changes to our licensing service.” This is to last for the period of Covid-19 outbreak.

This highlights that there are to be no face to face appointments. All planned meetings with the licensing and regulatory committee and the City of Glasgow Licensing Board have been postponed.

In addition, they are asking that only the most essential applications are submitted and if they are submitted, they should be sent by electronic means rather than paper work.

Glasgow have moved very quickly to set out a very clear guidance document which can be found at the following link –  We understand that most other Scottish Licensing Boards are offering similar advice to clients.

The Gambling Commission is sending out regular notifications as to their expectations during these testing times.

In the most recent email sent yesterday, the Commission highlighted that they are following Public Health England’s Guidance and have told all staff to work from home until further notice. They have set out that the Commission has set out a well-practiced and comprehensive business continuity plan that they have invoked with the intention of minimising the impact on their regulatory and advice services.

The Gambling Commission have highlighted that whilst these current circumstances create unprecedented changes to daily life, that these changes will also increase the risks to some individuals which mean that despite the fact that these are changing times, customers must be protected by operators.

They set out “first and foremost we expect all our licensees to follow the applicable Public Health guidance, which I am confident you will already be doing. Where facilities for Gambling are being offered, we expect all our licensees to ensure that they have sufficient management, staffing and an oversight in place to maintain compliance with the LCCP that apply to their licences.

The social distancing measures that are being put in place will mean that more people will be at home and we would like to remind online operators that they must continue to act responsibly, especially in regard to individual customer affordability and increase social responsibility interactions.” – Neil McArthur. This is a clear message that the Gambling Commission expects licensed operators to be increasing their social responsibility principles during this period. In addition, the Gambling Commission have written to us directly to ask that we do not send any documents by post. All documents to be received are expected to be scanned and sent electronically.

They are currently deciding how to proceed with personal licences, usually they require an original identification to be provided but are going to be determining how to deal with this during the currency of the outbreak.

It is clear that the Gambling Commission is seeking to provide a service as close to normal working life as possible.

The taxi licensing sector is going to be seriously affected through the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Government guidance is that no driver should be working if they have a new continuous cough and/or high fever and should obviously at that point self-isolate.

Drivers of Hackney Carriage or private hire vehicles, Hackney Carriage and private hire proprietors and private hire operators have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to both themselves and those who are likely to come into contact with their business.

We would hope to see that taxi licensees are frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.

They will have been reminded of the following document –

We are certain that taxi’s will continue to play a vital role in the movement of people through these difficult times.

It is now becoming clear that we are going to be in a protracted period of different working practices. We hope that everyone will look to make the licensing process and regulatory remit as user-friendly as possible during this period. I have had a significant number of messages from operators asking how our team is and the element of interaction has been high. This is at a time when their own businesses are closing for public safety reasons.

Having being in the leisure sector for over 30 years, I can attest to the fact that they are a resilient bunch. It’s now imperative that the Government give significant financial support so that these businesses, viable until the outbreak of the Coronavirus, have the ability to come through the other side and provide the much needed distractions that we will all be looking forward to by then. The measures so far announced don’t go far enough and it is hoped that the Councillor will be making more practical announcements later today which can come into effect very quickly. A significant number of my clients have been posting that they are now closing voluntarily until we are through the worse of the virus. These are fabulous responsible operators, viable businesses, who deserve to be supported by central Government.


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Gambling Commission partner with Twitter to issue Guidance on how to regulate content

The Gambling Commission has partnered with Twitter to create guidance aimed at supporting users who want to limit the amount of gambling-related content they see on the social media platform. The guidance explains the different ways in which Twitter’s safety tools and settings can be adjusted within an individual account, to help mitigate the risk of exposure to gambling-related messaging and advertisements. This year the Gambling Commission is also looking to produce similar guidance for users of other social media platforms. Twitter is the first to work with the Gambling Commission on this initiative.

In the guidance you are shown how you can control on various levels:

  • Manage ‘interests’ within a profile; interests are comprised of a list of keywords, associated to an individual’s Twitter activity.
  • Turn off notifications; this prevents the user from receiving notifications from certain types of accounts they’d like to avoid (such as a sports account).
  • Use the mute feature; this enables a user to have greater control over what they can and can’t see on Twitter by ensuring certain words, accounts and conversations are no longer visible.

In October 2019 the Commission’s chief executive Neil McArthur raised his concerns to the gambling industry around the exposure of gambling adverts to children, young people and vulnerable adults. He has encouraged gambling businesses to embrace advertising technology and be more socially responsible.

“This level of exposure is a concern and I have challenged the industry to quickly accelerate opportunities to reduce the amount of advertising seen by young people, children and vulnerable adults across all digital platforms. Whilst we work on a plan which sets out new standards for how the industry will embrace advertising technology, I hope that this guidance will play a role in helping consumers to limit the gambling-related content they see on Twitter.”

Katy Minshall, Head of UK Public Policy at Twitter, said: “Improving the health of the public conversation is our overall mission as is ensuring those on the service feel safe and supported. With that in mind, we’re continuing to enforce our policies, specifically around prohibited and restricted ad content as well as assessing the eligibility of ads on our service – these policies apply to all advertisers and advertisements on Twitter.”

This is another example of how the Commission is upping the ante with regards to advertisements/publishing of gambling specific offers and exposure to gambling on social media.

Click on the following link to download the guidance document

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Julian Skeens joins Woods Whur as a consultant

We have long admired Julian and been great friends on the circuit, so we were delighted that he wanted to join us and further assist our expansion in the London and South. After Luke Elford, who Julian worked with previously, joined us last year this further strengthens our London focus.

Julian has over 30 years’ experience in delivering licensing successes across the UK and advises a broad range of prestigious clients, including pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, galleries, theatres, and hotels.
For the past 32 years Julian has been consistently recognised by his peers as an expert in the field of licensing in Chambers and Partners UK and Legal 500 UK. He is known by his competitors as a “creative thinker” and a “formidable opponent” he leaves no stone unturned in his relentless pursuit of his clients’ interests.

“I am delighted to be joining Woods Whur. I believe that their commercially focused and pragmatic advice fits closely with my own personal approach and allows me the opportunity to provide the competitive advantages I like to offer clients. Paddy and Andy are at the top of the tree right now so it is exciting to be involved with their practice. It is also particularly pleasing for me to work with Luke again, he is already a great  lawyer, but also a personal friend. This gives us the right environment to further grow the firm’s enviable representation in the vibrant London market.”

“We are all pleased that Julian has joined us. Andy and I have known Julian for the whole of our professional careers and respected his advocacy skills, client list and desire to take on even the most difficult of cases. Andy and I were already undertaking some fabulous work in the South and London in particular, and Julian joining us to link in with Luke really sets the agenda for exciting growth.”

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What impact could the Commission on Alcohol Harm have on the alcohol industry in the coming months.

The Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), a group of 50 non-governmental organisations who work in cooperation to promote evidence-based policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, have announced their support for a new Commission on Alcohol Harm, chaired by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff. (

The AHA was launched in 2007 and is chaired by Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, a leading professor of hepatology and special advisor on alcohol to the Royal College of Physicians. The AHA stresses that they do not have a view on drinking but campaigns for evidence-based policies to tackle the harms caused by alcohol, not for prohibition. They highlight that they are independent of the alcohol industry but work to:

  • highlight the rising levels of alcohol-related harm
  • propose evidence-based solutions to reduce this harm
  • influence decision-makers to take positive action to address the harm caused by alcohol

The Commission on Alcohol harm has been established to:

“examine the current evidence on alcohol harm, recent trends in alcohol harm and the changes needed to reduce the harm caused by alcohol…..[and] the need for a new comprehensive alcohol strategy for England, which takes account of the strategies in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and considers UK-wide priorities in areas where policy is not devolved.”

The Commission will hold three oral evidence sessions in early 2020 and has launched a call for written evidence, with submissions welcomed before the deadline of 12.00 noon on 17 February 2020.

The Commission on Alcohol Harm welcomes written submissions addressing one or more of the following questions:

  • What evidence has emerged since 2012 on alcohol’s impact on:

        -Physical health?

        -Mental health?

  • What impact does alcohol have on the NHS and other public services?
  • What challenges do alcohol treatment services currently face in supporting people impacted by alcohol harm?
  • What recent evidence is there of impacts caused by alcohol consumption on family life, relationships and sexual behaviour?
  • What data exists to show alcohol’s current impact on different demographic groups, including age, sex and social class?
  • What impact does alcohol have on economic productivity and is there evidence of this changing since 2012?
  • What current evidence is there of links between alcohol and violent behaviour and other crime?
  • What recent evidence is there of links between alcohol and other addictive behaviours (such as smoking, drug use and gambling)?
  • What effect does the current approach to alcohol marketing and licensing have on alcohol harm?
  • What policy changes would help to reduce the level of harm caused by alcohol? Are there policy responses from other governments (including within the UK) that have been successful in reducing harms caused by alcohol that could be implemented in the UK?

Written evidence should be submitted as a single Microsoft Word document attached to an email and state clearly who the submission is from, and whether it is sent in a personal capacity or on behalf of an organisation. They should be no more than 2,500 words in length and provide references when citing evidence from other sources.

Written evidence received by the Commission on Alcohol Harm will form the basis for the final report and can be submitted at

We will continue to report on the progress of the commission and the recommendations it ultimately makes.

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London Borough of Southwark consulting on statement of licensing policy.

The London Borough of Southwark is reviewing its alcohol licensing policy and is looking for feedback from residents and businesses on the changes it proposes to make.

The policy sets out how the council will make decisions on premises licences, how premises are likely to be permitted to operate, and how the needs of residents and businesses will be addressed within the context of the licensing regime.

The council have to consult on their licensing policy every five years. The current consultation follows a “mid-term” review which was carried out last year.

The consultation runs until 1 March 2020 and a copy of the draft policy can be downloaded from the council’s website. It is anticipated that the new policy will come into effect on 11 January 2021.

Any operators with interests in Southwark are strongly encouraged to submit a response to the ongoing consultation before the deadline. If you would like assistance with submitting a response then we are happy to help.

Southwark won’t be the only council consulting on their licensing policy in the not too distant future. Many licensing policies are due for review in 2020 and 2021 and it is important to feed into those. We will be feeding back on behalf of a number of clients and we suggest you do the same.

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TENs – some dates for your diary

Happy New Year! 2020 is upon us and that means that you have a brand spanking new allocation of TENs (Temporary Event Notices) to play with (15 TENs covering no more than 21 days).

We’ve produced a list of some key dates for your diary, but it’s also worth reminding oneself about some of the rules and regulations around TENs generally.

There are two types of TEN – a TEN (sometimes referred to as a Standard TEN) and a Late TEN.

A TEN can be given at any time, but must be given at least 10 clear working days before the event in question. For those unfamiliar with the term “clear working days” it means that you discount the day you submit the TEN and the day of the event.

A Late TEN must be given at least 5 clear working days before the event in question (and no more than 9  clear days before the event otherwise it’s just a TEN).

A TEN or Late TEN can last for up to 7 days (168 hours) and the capacity of the area covered by the TEN is 499 including staff.

A couple of things to watch out for:

  1. If you gave a TEN for NYE (after 00:00) then you will have used some of your allotted allocation for 2020 (15 TENs covering 21 days)
  2. “Days” in TEN-terms are complicated. A TEN starting at 8pm and finishing at 2 in the morning counts as one TEN, but two of your allotted 21 days. Bear this in mind.
  3. Despite being designed to be “light touch” and “easy” TENs can and frequently are very complicated. The form itself runs to 13 pages including notes. If in any doubt about what you’re doing get in touch and we’d be delighted to help!

Without further ado, here’s the dates for your diary for the first 6 months of the year. We’ll make sure you’re kept up to date throughout the year.

Event Date Last date to give a TEN Last date to give a Late TEN
January 2020
None – January is just… well, January is just horrible. Best just to get it over and done with
February 2020
NFL Superbowl (American Football) 2 February 2020 17 January 2020 24 January 2020
Valentine’s Day 14 February 2020 30 January 2020 6 February 2020
Wilder v Fury II (Boxing) 22 February 2020 7 February 2020 14 February 2020
March 2020
St. David’s Day 1 March 2020 14 February 2020 21 February 2020
The Cheltenham Festival (Horse Racing) 10 March 2020 (first day of festival) 24 February 2020 2 March 2020
St. Patrick’s Day 17 March 2020 2 March 2020 9 March 2020
April 2020
Good Friday 10 April 2020 26 March 2020 2 April 2020
Easter Monday 13 April 2020 27 March 2020 3 April 2020
May 2020
Early Spring Bank Holiday 8 May 2020 23 April 2020 30 April 2020
FA Cup Final (Football) 23 May 2020 8 May 2020 15 May 2020
Late Spring Bank Holiday 25 May 2020 8 May 2020 15 May 2020
UEFA Champions League Final (Football) 30 May 2020 15 May 2020 22 May 2020
June 2020
UEFA Euro 2020 (Football) 12 June 2020 (first day of tournament) 28 May 2020 4 June 2020
Royal Ascot (Horse Racing) 16 June 2020 (first day of meeting) 1 June 2020 8 June 2020
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Out with the old and in with the new.

As we say goodbye to 2019 and look forward to 2020 we are in the midst of a move to our new offices in Leeds. From 2nd January 2020 we will have a new HQ in Leeds. After 8 years in Devonshire House we are moving to ST JAMES HOUSE, 28 PARK PLACE, LEEDS LS1 2SP. We are really pleased with our new offices which are spacious and modern, allowing for the continued growth we have seen in 2019. Amanda Usher became our first trainee Solicitor after working for us as a paralegal and Kirstan Lounsbach joined to further strengthen the Leeds based admin team. Luke Elford joined us in London from TLT to continue the development of our London presence as we moved our London offices to 42-46 Princelet Street, London, E1 5LP .

It has been an amazing year. Andy has had several trips abroad as our international gambling client base has grown significantly. We are seeing continued growth in this sector and I am hopeful I can make another exciting announcement in this area in the New Year. We have seen a hike in regulatory interaction in the Gambling Sector, with the Gambling Commission looking particularly closely at operators and their compliance with social responsibility, money laundering and proceeds of crime conditions. It has been very clear that the Commission is keen to act if they feel operators do not have first rate systems to ensure a transparent and safe gambling sector in the UK. We really do not see this slowing down and have written, and will continue to write, bulletins on this in 2020.

I have been doing much more work in the music sector, securing premises licences for Field Day festival, Drumsheds, Shindig festival on the back of successful applications for Printworks, Dock x and Exhibition in London. This is a really exciting area to be working in and it is always interesting to be involved in the SAG process around these major events. Again, we have some new and exciting developments in this area for 2020 and only see this area growing as we move forward.

As well as representing large multi-site operators, as a firm we have always represented some of the best independents in the country. 2019 has been a particularly strong year for our clients in this sector with a raft of new award winning openings around the country. It is still very exciting to be involved with these operators from site finding, proactive advice, delivering a new licence to celebrating with the client at opening events and seeing the premises flourish.

The Regulatory team has had some major successes this year in both defending operators when systems have gone wrong and let them down, as well as giving pro-active advice to operators to avoid the pitfalls which can be hugely impactful to businesses. The Regulatory team continue to be very active in the Taxi sector, which is a very active area of licensing and regulation. James and his team held a fantastic regulatory conference this year and we will be looking to hold a Gambling conference and other training events through 2020. Luke and I both spoke at the Institute of Licensing National Conference, and James spoke at the regional conference in York. We will continue to support and speak at IOL events.

We are looking forward to dealing with whatever 2020 throws at us. We have a new Government and movement on Brexit. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the leisure sector, a bit of movement and more certainty will definitely help. With the amount that needs to be undertaken by central Government on these and big ticket issues we don’t foresee any major regulatory/legislator changes. That is not to say we wont see changes brought about by litigation through the courts creating interpretation of the legislation.

Everyone at Woods Whur wish you all a productive New Year; profits for the operators; safe environments for the regulators; exciting new developments and innovation. Back to the unpacking now though so we can settle into the new offices and hit the ground running for the new year.

Paddy Whur

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Minimum Unit Pricing to be introduced in Wales

The Welsh Government has voted to approve The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018 which will make it an offence for alcohol to be supplied below a fixed minimum unit price (MUP), likely to be 50p per unit. The law will come into force on 2 March 2020.

The decision to approve the legislation is based on research which suggests that MUP will:

  1. result in 66 fewer deaths and 1,281 fewer hospital admissions in Wales per annum;
  2. save the Welsh NHS more than £90m in direct healthcare costs over the next 20 years;
  3. will reduce workplace absence by 9,800 days per year; and
  4. contribute £783m to the Welsh economy in terms of the reduction of alcohol related illness; crime and workplace absence.

The Welsh Government say that the new law will support the Government’s work to tackle harmful drinking by addressing the availability and affordability of cheap, strong alcohol. The move has been welcomed by the Welsh Health Minister, Vaughn Gething, and the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr. Frank Atherton, who said that the move “could help save many lives.”

With Scotland and now Wales having introduced MUP is it only a matter of time before Westminster follow suit? Time will tell and as always we will keep you updated with all the latest developments.

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Gambling Commission Publish the Young People and Gambling Survey 2019.

The Gambling Commission have released their research study among 11-16 year olds in Great Britain. A full copy of the report can be found at the following link:

This will take you to the Young People and Gambling Survey of 2019.

The report which was published earlier in October explores the gambling behaviours of young people aged between 11-16 years old in England, Scotland and Wales. It disseminates a survey that was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Gambling Commission.

The headline findings of the report are as follows:-

  • 11% of 11-16 year olds say they spent their own money on gambling activities in the 7 days prior to taking part in the survey. This is down from 14% in the previous year.
  • 5% of 11-16 year olds say they have placed a private bet for money (e.g. with friends) in the past 7 days, with a further 3% playing cards for money in the past 7 days.
  • 4% of 11-16 year olds report playing on fruit or slot machines in the past 7 days.
  • 3% of 11-16 year olds say they have played National Lottery Scratch Cards and 2% say they have played the Lotto draw in the past 7 days.
  • 69% of 11-16 year olds say they have seen or heard gambling adverts or sponsorship with 83% of those saying that it had not prompted them to gamble.
  • 7% of 11-16 year olds are classified as problem gamblers, 2.7% are classified as at risk. In 2018 those figures were 1.7% and 2.2%.

The Gambling Commission do not feel that the 2019 results represent a significant increase since the previous report.

Tim Miller, executive director of the Gambling Commission said:

“This report demonstrates that children and young people’s interaction with gambling or gambling behaviours comes from 3 sources – gambling that they are legally allowed to participate in, gambling on age restricted products and gambling style games. Any child or young person that experiences harm from these areas is a concern to us and we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to protect them from gambling harms.

Most of the gambling covered by this report takes place in ways which the law permits, but we must keep working to prevent children and young people from having access to age restricted products. Where operators have failed to protect children and young people, we have and will continue to take firm action. This year alone, we have tightened rules and requirements around age verification to prevent children and young people from accessing age restricted products, put free to play games behind pay walls and clamped down on irresponsible products.”

Earlier this month, the Gambling Commission’s chief executive, Neil McArthur, set out clear expectations for the gambling industry about how he wants operators to use data to avoid targeting advertising at young and vulnerable people.

Through the work of the national strategy to reduce gambling harms, the Gambling Commission says that it is developing a range of education and prevention programs to put in place to protect children and young people. This includes partnerships with Gamble Aware and Parent Zone, who offer support for parents and guardians to help them deal with issues around playing gambling style games and gambling.

The report and other initiatives show that the Gambling Commission continue to take the wellbeing of children as a premium in relation to gambling activities. This was also seen last year when the Gambling Commission reported on the back of test purchasing of pubs that they found 88% of pubs in England failed to prevent children accessing 18+ gaming machines.

This is clearly a key area for the Gambling Commission who continue to work to ensure children are not exposed to illegal gambling.

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Licensing Hours increased to mark VE Day 2020

The Home Secretary has announced that licensing hours across England & Wales are to be extended to mark the 75th anniversary of VE day subject to a consultation exercise.

The proposals would mean that licensed premises which are able to trade until 11pm (on 8 May and 9 May 2020 respectively) will be able to trade until 1am the following morning.

This coincides with the government’s decision to move the early May Bank Holiday from 4 May 2010 to Friday 8 May 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of VE day.

VE day marks a remembrance of the contributions of British, Commonwealth and Allied Armed Forces personnel, as well as all those citizens who contributed to the war effort and safeguarded the home front.

In the past, the government has extended licensing hours for such occasions such as the Royal Wedding (2018); the Queen’s 90th birthday (2016), the World Cup (2014); the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (2012) and the Royal Wedding (2011).