Licensees must still make applications for extended hours
by Richard Williams, one of thePublican.com's legal team from London solicitor Joelson Wilson
You will no doubt have read the newspaper headlines about Martin Gough and his High Court victory, clearing the way for magistrates in England and Wales to grant special orders of exemption for World Cup matches.
This appears to be excellent news all round, but the more charitable among you may wish to spare a thought for the court staff and police who will now have to deal with a deluge of new applications.
One thing the ruling doesn't do is allow blanket opening in the morning for pubs during the World Cup.
It has been confirmed that magistrates do have a discretion to grant extensions for World Cup matches, if they consider these to be "special occasions".
Therefore, you will not automatically be granted extensions and in some parts of the country, it may only be sporting theme pubs with large TV screens that get extra hours. You may have to argue why each extension you are applying for is "special" and this may prove difficult for those matches unconnected with the England and Republic of Ireland teams.
If you want to apply for an extension to cover some or all of the matches, then you will need to make a formal written application to your local court, together with the fee of £10. In London, these applications are made to the police. You can include all of the extension dates on the one application. You can find a schedule of the matches to be played in the newspapers, TV guides or on the internet.
Identify those matches your customers will want to watch at your pub and then find out the televised time in the UK. Remember that some schedules list the televised times as the local time in Korea and Japan, which is eight hours ahead of British Summer Time.
The earliest matches start around 7.30am, so on those occasions, you may want to apply for an extension from 7am until 11am on a weekday or until 12noon on a Sunday.
Some of you will want to apply for extensions for all matches, while others will just pick the important ones as far as the England and Republic of Ireland teams are concerned. I will be interested to hear how many of you decide to have your pub open and staffed for the Tuesday morning match between Senegal and Uruguay on June 11.
Some courts will deal with the applications by post, while others will expect you to attend. You should check with your court and the police to see what their policy is before submitting your applications. If you are asked to attend court, be prepared to answer questions about why the matches are "special" to you or your customers. If necessary, bring along some details about the television facilities at your pub, including the number and size of the screens. Despite Mr Gough's efforts, if you're only moving the portable TV onto the bar for the duration of the World Cup, you may struggle to get your applications granted.
Trade welcomes World Cup ruling (12 April 2002)