Legal checklist: Compiling a licensing file

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Premises licence License

Compiling a licensing file for inspection to help fight your corner is crucial
Compiling a licensing file for inspection to help fight your corner is crucial
One way to limit the severity of any action taken against a licensed premises is for an operator to put together a ‘licensing file’, which can be presented to the authorities, licensing committee, or - if necessary - to the courts. Our checklist identifies the documents to include.

A common thread in the guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 is an expectation that all parties — including the authorities and operators — will work in partnership to ‘ensure that the licensing objectives are promoted collectively’.

Unfortunately, this partnership seems to be regularly ignored by some authorities. We have seen an increase in advising clients in relation to prosecutions and premises licence reviews.

These are often brought by authorities that feel the only way to ensure operators do as they say, is by threatening or taking immediate enforcement action against the premises licence holder or designated premises supervisor (DPS).

Some operators realise their premises licence or company reputation is at risk only when the authorities appear at the premises to conduct a licensing inspection. Rather than panic, start by showing them that proper consideration has been given to licensing matters at the premises by presenting your ‘licensing file’ for inspection.

The checklist below is not exhaustive, but identifies some of the documents that could be enclosed.

  • A list identifying the licensing objectives. This will immediately focus everyone’s mind when considering licensing issues.
  • Emergency contact details for senior management (such as an area manager), the environmental health officer and the council’s licensing officer. 
  • The original or a certified copy of the premises licence, including the approved plans (the summary should be displayed in the public area).
  • Copies of policies, especially those identified in the premises licence, such as drugs, dispersal or underage/Challenge 21. 
  • DPS authorisation form confirming all the names of staff who are authorised to sell alcohol at the premises.
  • Copies of all staff training records. 
  • Copies of other authorisations, e.g. pavement licences, planning permission, gaming permits, marriage licence etc. 
  • Copy of the fire risk assessment for the premises under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
  • Security Industry Authority-registered doorstaff register (if this is appropriate). 
  • A variation of DPS application form for any emergency applications under Section 37 of the Licensing Act 2003. 
  • List of key dates — e.g. when temporary event notices will be required for bank holidays and other special events, the date when annual fees are due, pavement licence renewal dates etc.

Remember, the value of having this file will be realised only if the contents are accurate, regularly reviewed and updated, and all staff are familiar with — and understand — the contents.

Related topics Licensing law

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