The Rugby World Cup has been and gone. England surpassed all expectations and friends of mine have returned to the UK with stories of their travels around Japan to see the games. While I was not fortunate enough to have been in Japan, I have witnessed a roller coaster of anticipation and stress experienced by my clients; not caused by the actual game play but a sudden realisation that England were going all the way to the final with early matches that started well before the hours permitted by their premises licences.
This has prompted many last-minute instructions for temporary event notices (TENs). Although ‘late’
TENs with a five clear, working day deadline have eased the burden of forward planning to some degree, the majority of instructions were given only three or four days before the event, meaning that an application for early opening and licensable activities was not possible.
I was surprised how many operators had not checked their premises licence to see if there were any non-standard timings to assist them. Quite often, buried in the non-standard timings or conditions section of a licence are permissions for extra hours for ‘international sporting events’. Some allow extra hours without any further requirement; some require operators to notify the police and/or the licensing authority a number of days in advance.
Where operators have such permissions but are short on time, my advice has been to speak to the police and licensing officers – the majority take a relaxed view on the screening of rugby matches and this has proven to be a wise move, with some of the more pragmatic officers agreeing to waive the requirement to notify them five or 10 days in advance.
Conversely, some police forces were concentrating efforts on inspecting premises that were opening early for the sale of alcohol in breach of their premises licence. This is a criminal offence and carries the risk of enforcement or prosecution meaning operators could quickly see any rugby-related profits dwarfed by the cost of defending a review or legal proceedings.
The moral of the story is that preparation is key. Check your premises licence and if you have non-standard timings permitting extra hours for international sporting events, notify the authorities of your intention to use them in advance.
It costs nothing and you can always tell the authorities if you change your mind and decide not to utilise them. Similarly, with TENs, it is worth submitting them early in anticipation of any events as they cost relatively little and can be withdrawn if not needed.
For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website.