Legal Q&A: drinking up time and country pub refurb

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Time’s up: drinking-up time is at your discretion
Time’s up: drinking-up time is at your discretion
The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen examines the laws around drinking-up time when filing TENs and country pub refurb.

TENs – drinking up time

Q: I am just filling in a temporary event notice (TEN) and there isn’t a box for drinking-up time. Do I have to get everybody at the same time as my alcohol sales finish?

A. No. You are right – the TEN form does not contain a box for the hours that you are open to the public/ drinking-up time but your customers are allowed a drinking-up time after the end of your authorised alcohol sales.

In theory, this could be for as long as you wish but it would be sensible to have 30 minutes or a similar period for customers to drink up and leave the premises.

Refurb of country pub

Q: I am planning a refurb of my country pub. I usually do these with a minor variation but there are a couple of changes that I am not sure about.

In addition to changing some of the fixed seating and adding a couple of drinks shelves, I want to expand my licensed area to include a small storeroom.

Additionally, I would like to change my hours for selling alcohol from 9am to 10am. I seem to recall these aren’t allowed under the minor variation procedure.

Is that correct?

A. You are right to ask the question. Turning first to the storeroom issue, the legal test for the licensing authority is whether your change could potentially have an adverse impact on the promotion of the licensing objectives, in this case by increasing the capacity for drinking on the premises.

Depending on the size of the storeroom, it is quite likely the application could be rejected for this reason. One thing you could consider, however, is to decrease another part of your existing licensed area by the same amount so the overall drinking area is not increased.

This would likely be something you would want to speak to the licensing authority about before (in case they took a different view) but many licensing authorities and police forces are pragmatic about these minor changes to the licensed area if the resulting floor space is roughly the same.

I hasten to add that none of this is an exact science, and small net increases to the licensed area are not automatically prohibited under the minor variations procedure – it all depends on the facts.

In respect of your intention to bring forward your alcohol hours to 9am then the rules are very clear. You cannot use the minor variations procedure to increase the amount of time during which alcohol may be sold on or off the premises.

However, as your proposal falls outside the restricted times of 11pm to 7am (in which the only way to extend the hours is to use a full variation) you can ‘swap’ hours for existing hours that you already have. So, for example, if you always close between 3pm and 4pm you could offer up that period of alcohol sales as a swap for your additional hour from 9am to 10am, and this could be done under the minor variations procedure. No net increase in the hours is permitted under the minor variations procedure.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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