Licensing law

Legal Q&A: TENs and the '499' people rule

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Legal Q&A: TENs and the '499' people rule

Related tags Temporary event notices Stewart copeland License

This week's legal Q&A includes information on complying with Temporary Event Notices - as well as negative 'vetting' of incidents that may cause a licence review.

The ‘499 people’ rule

Q: I am planning a small summer music event on the village green at the front of my pub for about 800 people. Can I use two Temporary Event Notices to avoid the ‘499 people’ rule?

A​: This is a legal grey area. Some licensing authorities frown upon the practice of “dividing up” open land into discrete parcels of 499 people, to comply with the limit on TENs. The practice has not yet been tested in the High Court. You do not mention what licensable activities you propose, but I assume they include the sale of alcohol on the village green (as opposed to from the pub) together with provision of regulated entertainment. As far as alcohol is concerned there is no issue as long as you include off as well as on-sales.

As for entertainment, you cannot benefit from the various relaxations in the law, as these are limited to 500 people, so you will need authorisation of some kind. If you have not already done so, contact the licensing authority and enquire whether there is a safety advisory group made up of the main authorities interested in ensuring you run a safe event. In those discussions you will hopefully be able to clarify whether the authorisations you propose, or a full (albeit temporary) premises licence is most appropriate. Lastly, if you are planning for this summer I would make contact as soon as possible.

Negative 'vetting'

Q: The police are threatening a review of my licence, but their list of incidents includes refusals at the door for drugs and an incident where my door staff ran across the road to help someone being beaten up. Can they use such incidents?

A:​ I cannot talk specifically about your case, but often the police do incorrectly record or attribute incidents as negatives when they either have no causal relation to the licensable activities taking place at a particular premises, or indeed should have been noted as a positive.

Some police licensing officers are better at 'vetting' these statistics than others. It is critical that in cases such as this you do not take the evidence lying down, and that a thorough analysis of all the police alleged incidents is carried out, comparing them to your own – hopefully detailed – incident logs.

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