Legal Q&A: games nights and purchasing A-boards

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Game for it: such entertainment won’t require permission
Game for it: such entertainment won’t require permission
The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen examines the laws around games nights and purchasing A-boards.

Games nights

Q. I run an independent pub in the middle of a heavily populated student area. This year I’m pushing Dry January with a new drinks menu featuring non-alcoholic drinks from a range of draught breweries and distilleries. I’m mixing this promotion by having various games nights, including skittles, table-top games and other activities both seated and of a more sporting nature. Do I need specific permission under my premises licence for these games?

A. The good news is that unless these games are intended to entertain an audience they probably don’t count as regulated entertainment at all, so no specific permission is required. This is because one of the requirements of regulated entertainment is that it is at least partly intended to entertain an audience. Even if there are spectators being entertained then, between the hours of 8am and 11pm, you wouldn’t need specific permission on your premises licence.

I would advise conducting a risk assessment. If any of the games involve video gaming or other digital content there may be wider copyright issues that you would be advised to check with the relevant rights holder (for example, using Xbox or PS4 in your pub, rather than for your personal use).

A-boards purchase

Q. After a really strong year of trading, helped by the great summer and success of the England football team, I decided to invest in my high-street pub. I have spent money on two high-end A-boards; one for each street that my corner pub sits on. But my local licensing officer told me that due to a new council A-board policy, if I want to continue using A-boards on the pavement, I now need to apply to the council for a licence. Is this correct? And, if so, what is the application process?

A. I know this is not what you want to hear, but I suspect the licensing officer is correct. You do need a pavement or street display licence to use A-boards on the public highway.

I appreciate this can come as a bit of a shock, as many licensing authorities up and down the country haven’t previously enforced this. However, I have definitely seen an increase in the number of local authorities that have changed their policy and are now actively enforcing this. In the first instance, and if you are unsure, I suggest you find out whether the area where you wish to place your A-board is actually the public highway (council-adopted land) or private land (within your domain or another’s privately owned land).

You can usually find this information on the deeds to your property. If the area in which you wish to place your A-board is public highway, then the right to place A-boards in this area falls within the council’s domain to approve.

The process for obtaining an A-board licence can vary from council to council, and this includes any requirements and restrictions for placing A-boards, including specific locations and areas, as well as the number of A-boards permitted for a premises.

There might also be other permissions you need to obtain, such as planning permission and advertising consent. Hopefully, you will be able to find this information on your local authority’s website.

Something else you need to consider is that certain local authorities require you to renew your application on a regular basis, typically every six or 12 months. And please be aware that if you put an advertising sign or display on a public highway without the relevant licence/permissions, it could be removed with a charge, and even a possible fine.

Related topics: Licensing law

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