Q&A

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Bereavement rights Q. A local pub near here has been closed down by council officials because the family failed to apply for a transfer of the...

Bereavement rights

Q. A local pub near here has been closed down by council officials because the family failed to apply for a transfer of the licence a week after the licensee died. We are very unhappy about this. Is there anything that can be done?

A. Not with the council being so inflexible. They state that they are within their rights, but there has been widespread criticism of the effect of these changes since the new Act came into force.

The premises licence will lapse if the holder dies. That is clearly stated in the Licensing Act 2003. However, the personal representative of the deceased person, who may well be the licensee's wife, is entitled to give what is called an "interim authority notice" to the council. This will immediately cause the licence to be reinstated so that the business can carry on trading, as long as there is someone to act as designated premises supervisor (DPS).

If she does not hold a personal licence herself, then it is hoped that there is someone else in the pub who does, so that they can become the DPS. Giving the notice is not enough. Within seven days she must give a copy of the notice to the police. If that is done, then she has two months to sort out her husband's affairs, because the interim authority will last for that period.

However, it is likely that she will be advised to use the provisions of section 50 of the new Act to reinstate the licence in her own name.

Barring police objections, the licence would be immediately revived and a transfer would take effect and there will be no more formalities.

But because of the council action here, a new licence will be needed, which will take at least 28 days or even more. It is a sad situation in every respect.

Delegation on TEN

Q. I was visited last week by the local police licensing officer concerning a temporary event notice (TEN) application I made. There has been no objection, but he is stressing that as the "premises user" I must be present throughout the whole time that alcohol is being sold. This is at a venue away from my own pub. Must I be there?

A. This question continues to crop up, and it seems to be due to a misunderstanding of legal responsibilities. I can find nothing in the Licensing Act requiring the giver of the notice to be in attendance throughout the event, nor any provision for this to be imposed as a condition: you cannot impose conditions on a TEN, which it appears in an oblique way this policeman is trying to do.

However, he is right to stress one thing: as the premises user, you are fully responsible for compliance with the law throughout the event, and, if illegal sales or other contraventions take place, you will be prosecuted personally. It follows that if you are not to be there throughout, then you must follow the strict rules on delegation to responsible members of staff. It is not necessary that they hold a personal licence to take over from you.

Remember that the acknowledged notice should be available on the relevant premises, together with a letter of delegation, signed by you, appointing one of your staff in your place. In that way you can show due diligence and compliance with your obligations.

Soft drinks after time

Q. Would it be legal to allow the sale of soft drinks and sandwiches after the time stated on our premises licence for alcohol, to let people watch a sporting event on TV?

A. The premises licence only covers licensable activities, which includes the sale of alcohol, not the sale of other goods. This means that soft drinks may be sold and consumed after the times stated on your summary.

But you will be bound by any opening hours that have been properly inserted on your licence.

So there may be a time when members of the public should not be allowed to remain on the premises.

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