A licence at short notice

Related tags Occasional licence License Officer Partner

QHow much notice do you have to give to the police for an occasional licence? I need to run a bar at an event next week. Would it be easier for them...

QHow much notice do you have to give to the police for an occasional licence? I need to run a bar at an event next week. Would it be easier for them to get an occasional permission?

A Application for an occasional licence is made to the ordinary magistrates' court at any time when it is sitting. The minimum period of notice laid down by section 180 of the Licensing Act 1964 is 24 hours to the chief officer of police for the area, so a licence can be obtained at very short notice. The justices have to be satisfied that this notice has been given and that there are no objections from the police to the operation of a bar or the conduct of the premises to be licensed for the occasion.

Alternatively, written application may be made to the clerk to the magistrates not later than one month before the date of the event. In such circumstances a hearing will not be necessary, unless there is some kind of objection to the grant.

An occasional permission, on the other hand, requires a great deal more information to be supplied, together with a considerable period of notice. Application is made not to the magistrates but to the licensing justices and may therefore be heard only at one of their transfer sessions throughout the year. It is not much use for short-notice events, therefore.

Can they have a flutter?

QMy business partner has raised the issue of betting in the bar. He is concerned about the amount of betting actually taking place when the TV is on. He wants to check whether it is legal to fill in a betting slip while taking a pint and reading a newspaper. What about handing bets to a friend? Can it affect our licence?

AThere's a fine dividing line between what is and is not allowed when it comes to betting on licensed premises, so landlords have to be doubly careful. There are still many prosecutions in this area, and the police are often alerted by a tip-off of some kind.

With regard to betting with a bookmaker, it is illegal for a person to "use, cause or knowingly permit any premises to be used..." for the purposes of betting transactions.

It is also an offence to allow other people to use premises for betting transactions ­ whether as punters or as a bookmaker or bookmaker's representative.

So a licensee must not turn a blind eye to actual betting transactions on his premises, because he could be caught out. However, to sustain a conviction it must be clearly shown that actual transactions took place on the premises, of which the licensee ought to have been aware. It is not enough to show a single transaction, or to show that people discussed racing or betting, or exchanged tips (even for money, I would presume).

Filling in a betting slip or handing it to a friend is not illegal on licensed premises, as long as the bet is placed in the betting shop and the money changes hands there.

New rules for under-16s

QHas the law changed with regard to children in the bar? I have been told by a friend who was on a course that children under 16 will in future be banned from the bar area unless it is being used for meals. Is this true, as it will affect our family trade?

AThe law has changed, but it will not result in what you fear. The issue concerns unaccompanied children. In fact, the law will be in some ways relaxed, so that children will normally be allowed in bar areas as long as they are accompanied by an adult. But you will not be allowed to permit under-16s to be present on their own.

Related topics Licensing law

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