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Conditions On Premises Licences…How Can We Modernise Them?

I have a real problem with some converted licences which came over from the previous legislation…can you believe it…10 years ago!

What were we doing 10 years ago? We were trying to hit the deadline of Grandfather Rights to ensure that everyone kept their authorisation after the transfer to the Licensing Act. With the benefit of 10 years worth of hindsight a lot of what we believed/were told at the time has led to some of the issues which cause me concern now.

In the last month I have been looking after a restaurant with nearly 100 conditions and a bar with nearly 200 conditions. Do the operators comply with them all…or know them all? Do the regulatory authorities enforce them all…or know them all? I doubt it.

We have a significant amount of operators around the country who grandfathered the conditions of their old licences on to their premises licences during the period of transition. This means that a significant number of redundant conditions are attached to licences from old Children’s Certificates, Supper Hours Certificates and Special Hours Certificates. Under the old legislation (s77 Licensing Act 1964); to get extended hours the sale of alcohol had to be:

  • in a casino;
  • premises for which a music and dancing licence was in force, and
  • that the whole or any part of the premises is structurally adapted, and bona fide used, or intended to be used, for the purpose of providing for persons resorting to the premises;
  • in the case of casino premises, gaming facilities and substantial refreshment, and;
  • in the case of any other premises, music and dancing and substantial refreshment, to which the sale of intoxicating liquor is ancillary.

So where does that leave us…in a mess to be honest! There are operators who still do not realise that they have a condition on their licence whereby alcohol should only be sold when ancillary to the provision of music dancing and substantial refreshment. It is the duty of the operator to comply with all of the conditions on their licence…or apply to have them removed.

Most Licensing Authorities have a pool of “preferred conditions” which, in the most enlightened authority areas, change and are modernised through the passage of time. Leeds City Council has produced the Proforma Risk Assessment V7 document which is hugely helpful in this regard.

So what to do…

We can make an application to “modernise” the licence by way of a minor variation or during a full variation. However, this can be frustrated by responsible authorities who have a desperate urge to control. Surely the minimum number of conditions that are required the better for all. Easier to comply….easier to enforce. Not always the case though. I have recently tried to tidy up a licence and was met with requests for additional conditions from the authorities which would have left us with more conditions than we started with!

We also made an application in Liverpool for a convenience store and volunteered a security guard as and when we risk assessed the need to use. The police wanted this as a condition and we went to committee to argue that if we had already traded from a number of licences in the city promoting the licensing objectives with us doing this voluntarily then why did it need a condition on the new licence?

After a good debate with an enlightened and sensible committee we were given a decision that there was no need for this to be a condition on the licence….I wish this was the same throughout the country.

A reminder please:

The S182 Guidance document has a chapter given over to conditions on premises licences. This should be our starting point, applicants/advisors, responsible authorities and Licensing Sub-Committees/advisors. Relevant consideration should be given to the following paras:

1.16 Conditions on a premises licence or club premises certificate are important in setting the parameters within which premises can lawfully operate. The use of wording such as “must”, “shall” and “will” is encouraged. Licence conditions:

  • must be appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives;
  • must be precise and enforceable;
  • must be unambiguous and clear in what they intend to achieve;
  • should not duplicate other statutory requirements or other duties or responsibilities placed on the employer by other legislation;
  • must be tailored to the individual type, location and characteristics of the premises and events concerned;
  • should not be standardised and may be unlawful when it cannot be demonstrated that they are appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives in an individual case;
  • should not replicate offences set out in the 2003 Act or other legislation;
  • should be proportionate, justifiable and be capable of being met;
  • cannot seek to manage the behaviour of customers once they are beyond the direct management of the licence holder and their staff, but may impact on the behaviour of customers in the immediate vicinity of the premises or as they enter or leave; and
  • should be written in a prescriptive format.

The whole of Chapter 10 should be considered but in particular:

10.10 The 2003 Act requires that licensing conditions should be tailored to the size, type, location and characteristics and activities taking place at the premises concerned. Conditions should be determined on a case-by-case basis and standardised conditions which ignore these individual aspects should be avoided….Licensing authorities should, therefore, ensure that any conditions they impose are only those which are appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives.

And don’t get me started on British Summer Time…..