Legal Q&A: Outside drinking rules

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Legal Q&A: Outside drinking rules

Related tags: License

This week's legal advice includes examples of outside drinking rules and fears over personal licences...

Outside drinking rules

Q. I have recently obtained relevant permissions from both the planning and highways departments to permit the placing of tables and chairs outside my restaurant. However, the local licensing officer has now advised me that I cannot allow my customers to consume alcohol outside until I make an application to vary my premises licence to include the external area within the licensed area. Is this correct, as my premises licence permits off-sales?

A. I agree that usually in the circumstances you describe, you should be authorised to serve customers in any external area on the pavement, having obtained necessary consents.

However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tables and chairs licences. Local authorities do have powers to introduce their own rules regarding what restrictions they put in place for the use of tables and chairs on the highway and these can include, for example, restricted hours of operation, removal of furniture or, as would appear to be the case here, requiring that the external area be shown within the licensed area on your licensing plan.

Your permission for off-sales does not override the need to comply with local rules for tables and chairs licences.

It is, therefore, important to check with your local authority and discuss with them any specific requirements/restrictions they have for the operation of external areas. If one of their requirements is that you must include the outside area in your licensed plans then you will need to submit an application to vary your premises licence to the licensing authority. This should normally be permitted, with updated licensing plans showing the external area to be used within the licensed area. Speak with the licensing officer beforehand if in doubt.

Once the variation application has been granted then your external area will have all the relevant permissions required and you will be able to serve alcohol to these customers.

Personal licence fear

Q. My personal licence is due to expire later on this year. I have been advised on the telephone that I do not need to take any action but they will not provide me with anything in writing. Should I be worried?

A. No, there is nothing to worry about here and you have been advised correctly.

From the 1 April 2015, the requirement to make an application to renew a personal licence was abolished. This means that provided your personal licence did not expire before that date, it does not need to be renewed.

I appreciate that your licence will still show an expiry date but no action is required and the authorities will be aware that due to changes in legislation your licence will continue indefinitely.
However, should you make any changes to your personal licence in the future, eg, change of home address, to deal with this, the council may remove reference to any expiry date for clarity.

Related topics: Licensing law

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