Q. I read a recent article regarding JD Wetherspoon’s out-of-court settlement with a group of travellers for refusing entry to one of its pubs. I run a tight ship and have a zero-tolerance policy for troublemakers and had thought that, as landlord, I could refuse anyone?
A. Public houses by their very nature are open to the public at large, but you do have the right to refuse entry provided that the reason is not unlawful. Operators are entitled to bar any individuals providing such a ban is not discriminatory in nature and based upon protected characteristics such as age, race, disability, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity. Irish travellers and Romany gypsies are ethnic groups and the settlement you refer to relates to discrimination based upon race.
You are, of course, also under an obligation to promote the licensing objectives and if permitting a particular individual or group to the premises would undermine one of those objectives, any refusal would remain lawful. For example, if the reason for refusal is that an individual is a known troublemaker or if you have had to expel them previously from your premises for previous bad behaviour you are entitled to refuse entry. The same also applies if you are a member of a Pubwatch scheme and the individual(s) are banned by other Pubwatch premises.
The key point is that licensees have an unrestricted right to exclude anyone, particularly those they see as troublemakers provided that no refusal breaches equality law.
Any individual must not, therefore, be treated differently, based upon the characteristics listed above. For example, the stereotyping of a class of people purely because you think they are travellers.
You should ensure that all your staff are provided appropriate training and it is good practice to record the details of any contentious refusals including the grounds for refusal/ejection such as the prevention of crime and disorder.
Independent snooker clubs and gaming machines
Q. I run an independent snooker club and currently hold a club machine permit, which entitles me to provide a number of gaming machines. The permit expires this year and I am unsure how to maintain my current permission.
A. Club machine permits and club gaming permits, which may be held by non-commercial clubs, only have a 10-year duration and those first granted under the Gambling Act 2005 will expire later this year, unless renewed. Permits will not cease to have effect once a renewal application has been submitted to your licensing authority so ensure this is completed if you would like to retain your gaming permissions.
Renewal applications for both types of permit must be lodged with the relevant authority between three months and six weeks before the expiry date. The renewal process is the same as a new application and you should be able to obtain a copy of the correct form from your local council. The application fee will be £200 and you should send a copy to the Gambling Commission and the local police for the area where your premises is situated.
While you are no doubt operating as a genuine club, the local authority may use the renewal process to consider your existing operation and whether you satisfy the requirements of a commercial club. The same may be true for club gaming permit renewals for non-commercial clubs and operators should ensure that the necessary criteria are met. Your local authority will provide guidance and the Gambling Commission released an e-bulletin in December which may help.