If your business or organisation is involved in a licensable activity, including the sale and supply of alcohol, you will need a premises licence or other similar authorisation from the licensing authority.
Below is a practical guide to making a premises licence application and some of the considerations that should be made.
What is a licensable activity?
Under the licensing law in England and Wales there are four licensable activities:
- selling alcohol
- serving alcohol to members of a private club
- providing regulated entertainment, for example, a performance of live music or an indoor sporting event
- providing late night refreshment, ie; hot food or drink served between 11pm and 5am.
If your business is involved in any one of these licensable activities, you will be required to make a premises licence application or obtain other authorisation from your relevant licensing authority.
What type of premises licence application should I make?
The nature of your business and proposed licensable activities will determine the type of premises licence application you will need to make. There are three types of application:
- A standard premises licence
- A club premises certificate
- A temporary event notice.
A standard premises licence will authorise you to use your premises, defined as any place or part of any premises including a vehicle, vessel or moveable structure, to be used for one or more of the four licensable activities.
If you propose to sell or supply alcohol on a permanent basis you will need to apply for a premises licence.
A club premises certificate will grant qualifying club status to specific premises, such as working men’s clubs, allowing that club to engage in qualifying club activities, for example, the sale or supply of alcohol.
A members’ club must satisfy the relevant qualifying conditions, in particular, that it must be a real club with at least 25 members and alcohol must not be supplied on the premises other than by the club.
A temporary event notice (TEN) will be required for any occasional or one-off event with fewer than 500 people, where you want to carry out a licensable activity on unlicensed premises. This notice will permit any specified licensable activities lasting no more than 168 hours, ie; 7 days.
You will also need a TEN if a particular licensable activity is not included in the terms of your existing premises licence, for example, extending the hours permitted for selling alcohol for a special occasion.
Will I need a personal licence to make a premises licence application?
Anyone who plans to sell or supply alcohol, or authorise the sale or supply of alcohol, must apply for a personal licence.
Additionally, every premises licensed to sell alcohol, with the exception of community premises where the requirement has been waived, must have a “designated premises supervisor” (DPS), who holds a personal licence.
A DPS is usually the person who has day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business. In many cases this will be the premises licence holder, but you can choose to name someone else.
The DPS must be aged over 18 and hold a relevant accredited licensing qualification. The DPS will act as a representative of your business so caution must be exercised when making your selection, as an ill-advised appointment could have serious consequences for your business.
Anyone who works on premises authorised to sell alcohol, but does not hold a personal licence, must be authorised to sell alcohol by a personal licence holder. There is, however, no such requirement for the supply of alcohol in a private members’ club.
How do I make a premises licence application?
To make an application for a premises licence or club premises certificate, you will need to submit your form, with the appropriate fee, to the licensing authority within whose area your premises is situated. This will normally be your local authority.
An application can usually be made either electronically or by post. You may also be required to give a copy of the application to the “responsible authorities”. These are the public bodies, such as the police or environmental health authority, that are entitled to make representations to the licensing authority in relation to your premises licence application.
You are also required by law to advertise your premises licence application. This includes displaying a sign at or outside the premises and an advertisement in a locally circulating newspaper.
An application is not required for a TEN, rather you will need to serve a notice of your event on the licensing authority. You may again be required to provide a copy to the police and the council’s environmental health team, as the responsible authorities.
Considerations when making a premises licence application
When completing a premises licence application, you will be expected to have regard to the four licensing objectives, as well as the statement of licensing policy for your local area. The licensing objectives include:
- the prevention of crime and disorder
- public safety
- the prevention of public nuisance, and
- the protection of children from harm.
Prior to completing your application, you must make sufficient enquiries so that you can set out what steps you propose to take to promote these objectives in the context of the area in which your premises are situated. This could include, for example, proximity to residential premises or where children congregate.
You must also include positive proposals in your premises licence application on how you will manage any potential risks. This could include, for example, the provision of door supervision and CCTV.
Any failure to positively consider the licensing objectives within your premises licence application, could ultimately lead to your application being rejected.
How will my premises licence application be determined?
Each premises licence application must be considered on its own merits and in accordance with the responsible licensing authority’s statement of licensing policy. Any person may make representations in relation to your application, including responsible authorities, as well as local residents and businesses.
Where representations are made, it is for the licensing authority to decide whether those representations are relevant to the licensing objectives. If relevant, the licensing authority must hold a hearing to consider them.
If you disagree with any decision made by the licensing authority to either reject all or part of your application, or to impose modifying conditions, you have a right of appeal to the magistrate’s court.
However, if you have completed the application properly and no responsible authority or other person makes representations, the licensing authority must grant your premises licence application.
Your application, if approved, will be subject to various conditions, setting the parameters within which your premises can lawfully operate. These conditions will be tailored to the individual type, location and characteristics of your premises or licensable activities.
How do I amend my premises licence?
If you wish to change any aspect of your premises licence once it has been granted, you will need to apply to your relevant licensing authority for either a full or a minor variation.
The full variations process is similar to the premises licence application. You should use this process if you want to make a substantial change to your licence, for example, to extend licensing hours for the sale or supply of alcohol.
If you want to make a minor variation to your premises licence, you may be able to use the minor variations process, which is cheaper and quicker. This could include, for example, reducing licensing hours.
How do I transfer my premises licence?
Any person who may apply for a premises licence, which includes a business, may also apply for a premises licence to be transferred to them. In most cases, a transfer will be a simple administrative process.
Moreover, the transfer should take immediate interim effect as soon as the licensing authority receives it, until it is formally determined or withdrawn. This ensures that there is no interruption to normal business at the premises.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.