What qualifies as a special occasion?

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by David Clifton, of thePublican.com's legal team of experts from London solicitors Joelson WilsonIt has been a busy few weeks for licensees across...

by David Clifton, of thePublican.com's legal team of experts from London solicitors Joelson Wilson

It has been a busy few weeks for licensees across the country. Fireworks, pop concerts and local celebrations to mark the Queen's Jubilee. England getting through to the knockout stages of the World Cup and Lennox Lewis dumping Mike Tyson on the canvas.

Quite a good experiment as far as liberalised licensing hours are concerned. As long as we do not see too much trouble occurring as a result of extended hours granted either by the government or by the courts (or the police in London), we will hopefully see a more relaxed attitude being adopted in relation to applications for special orders of exemption in advance of the reform of licensing laws.

It is clear from the World Cup case that major televised sporting events other than football can also be relied upon in support of an application for extended hours.

There are three crucial questions on any such application, all of which must be answered "yes". They are:

  • is the occasion capable of being a special occasion?
  • if so, is it in fact a special occasion in the locality of your pub?
  • if so, should the application be granted as a matter of discretion?

For further guidance, an occasion can be special from a national or local point of view. The more frequent it is, the less likely it is that it will be sufficiently "special". However, if the occasion is created by the licensee solely for the purposes of his licensed business, it is unlikely to be capable of being a special occasion.

Just remember though that you will need something more than a little black and white television in the corner of your pub. You will need to be able to say that your pub has the facilities to enable your customers to enjoy the sporting event in question collectively as a shared experience.

Related topics: Events & Occasions

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