Late-night levy: lawyers warn pubs over change of trading hours

By Gurjit Degun

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Late-night levy Levy Public house License

Night-time: some councils are looking to bring in a late-night levy
Night-time: some councils are looking to bring in a late-night levy
Licensees who opt to apply for fewer trading hours when a late-night levy is introduced in their area should make sure that the change is only in place while the levy is in force.

That’s the advice from a group of leading licensing lawyers.

Under the legislation, if a late-night levy comes into effect in an area, licensees will be able to apply for a free variation to change their hours. This will allow pubs to reduce their hours to avoid the levy. The late-night levy allows licensing authorities to raise money from late-night opening for any period between midnight and 6am.

Licensing QC Philip Kolvin said he had come across many operators who welcomed this, but were concerned that if they are located in a stress area, it may be difficult to change their hours back if the levy were to be dropped.

“My idea was that the operators could put in a condition that says that they will not trade later during a late-night levy period,” he said.

Felicity Tulloch, of Manchester-based firm Kuits, added: “If a late-night levy were to come in through your local authority and you took advantage of a variation to pull your hours back, I would put in a condition that says, ‘to be effective so long as a late-night levy is in force in my area’, just in case they (late-night levies) don’t hang around forever.”

Jonathan Smith, partner at Poppleston Allen, also had similar advice. “It’s something that we are considering and looking to do for our clients,” he said. “The reason for this is that it could be difficult to get the hours back if the pub is in a cumulative impact policy area.”

The advice comes as the first local authority, Newcastle, has begun consulting on introducing a late-night levy. Last week, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser revealed that Blackpool pubs could face a 3am curfew under the proposals of an early morning restriction order.

Related topics Licensing law Health & safety