Q. Should children be allowed in pubs?
Pubs have had to adapt to the changing needs of the communities they serve and no more so than in these hard times. One very obvious example is the change in attitude toward children in pubs. The old legal requirement for a children's certificate to get round the blanket ban on kids, has been replaced by a more welcoming legal framework. Still to make the most of it, there are a number of factors to consider.
Let's be clear from the go, children do not have to be let into your pub. It is still entirely up to a pub manager to decide whether they are willing to encourage families or not. Or, indeed, ban them entirely.
Q. Does the law restrict children in pubs?
The law itself only seeks to restrict children from being in pubs as a matter course in two circumstances. Firstly, it is an offence to permit children under the age of 16 who are not accompanied by an adult to be present on premises being used solely or primarily for supply of alcohol.
Secondly, it is an offence to permit the presence of children under 16 who are not accompanied by an adult between midnight and 5am. Neither are blanket restrictions on children, and therefore just as long they are accompanied by an adult they are permitted in.
Q. So you are saying that I can permit children in most circumstances; are there any other restrictions I need to know about?
Ordinarily, restrictions on children come about because of conditions placed on the premises licence. Conditions carried over under what were called embedded restrictions mean that there are a significant number of licences that carry the old legal restrictions on children and if this is the case, they must be complied with.
In addition, the licensing objective of prevention of children from harm means that when a new licence application is made, or a licence varied, many people have felt compelled to put forward conditions that restrict the right of children to be on the premises.
In either circumstance, it may simply be a case of asking your local licensing officer if the offending conditions can be removed or amended. In many cases they will agree to a minor variation being sufficient, particularly if you are looking to change the style of operation into a family-friendly establishment.
Q. What if I am asked to add conditions to my licence?
Before agreeing to any conditions being placed on the licence, it pays to stop and consider whether they would in fact restrict your business unnecessarily. In the new world of smoke-free, family friendly pubs, the choice of wording of conditions can be very significant.
Piers Warne is a licensing lawyer at law firm TLT