Check your licence so you know what's what

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licence, License

When the paper copy of your new licence, and the summary, arrive, it would pay you to sit down and study it carefully. What the local licensing...

When the paper copy of your new licence, and the summary, arrive, it would pay you to sit down and study it carefully.

What the local licensing authority is meant to do is to reproduce on this document exactly what you asked for, but modified where necessary as a result of representations or agreements.

Put simply, if you asked for 1am closing on weekdays and there were objections due to possible disturbance and you agreed to midnight, then midnight it should be.

But if there were no objections to your proposed hours, then the licence should be printed out in exactly the way you requested. There is no scope for the licensing authority to amend it or add conditions or restrictions of their own, unless they are following the clear outline of the new law.

There have been examples of where licensing authorities have taken it upon themselves to set up, for example, 'drinking-up time' on the end of newlygranted hours, or conditions regarding access to and departure from the premises, not based on any representations but on their own decisions as to what they want. Technically, these additions are beyond their powers, and you should certainly enquire as to why they have been added when they have not been requested.

More importantly, in some cases reported to me, the licensing authority has added certain conditions 'at the request of environmental health' when the applicant has had no notification and no opportunity to address the issues during transition, either with the department or in front of the licensing committee at a hearing.

There is no doubt that some councils are flying by the seat of their pants on licensing. They have very little prior training and they are clinging on to advice either poorly translated or received from somewhat dubious sources. However, I have also come across councils that are carefully constructing their licences to reflect exactly what the law allows and the applicant has requested. There is a very varied picture across the country.

But even with the careful councils, they are under pressure to get licences out, and sometimes they are not being finally checked for accuracy. In several cases, all that has been required is a phone call pointing out the discrepancy, and it has been corrected instantly. Re-member that the licence is a legal document which is meant to reflect exactly how you operate. It would be quite galling to be prosecuted for serving alcohol at midnight when your licence said 11.30 but you had actually asked for 12.30.

Do check also that the summary has the same terms and conditions as the main licence. In one or two cases, the licence summary has turned out be the same first three or four pages of the licence itself, which seems rather to defeat the exercise, but it is at least accurate. In other examples where there has been an attempt to compress the information, some of it may have been omitted. The summary may not have the full entertainment package that the licence itself has, for example.

In that case, the main licence should prevail, because the summary is only an indication of the scope of the licence. But now is certainly the time to correct any errors or omissions, because the licence effectively lasts for ever, and you do want to be sure that all the permissions and extension you asked for are listed exactly as you wanted them.

There is no indication at the moment when the last licence documents will be issued. Certain hard-pressed local authorities are certainly still well behind on the actual paperwork, as I mentioned last week. But it is to be hoped that before Christmas most of the pubs and clubs in England and Wales will have received their documentation and can start to relax about the new licensing laws.

Related topics: Licensing law

Property of the week

The Hazeldene Hotel

- Tenancy

The Hazeldene Hotel is opposite the Famous Blacksmiths Shop in Gretna Green. With 11 letting rooms, it is in a prime location to offer fantastic...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more