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Legal Q&A: effect of CIPs on alcohol licence applications and mulled wine sales rules

By Suraj Desor, solicitor at Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Mulling it over: the latest Q&A looks at the licensing rules around serving wine at festive events (image: Getty/Ignatiev)
Mulling it over: the latest Q&A looks at the licensing rules around serving wine at festive events (image: Getty/Ignatiev)

Related tags Poppleston allen Licensing Cumulative impact policy Licence

Legal experts Poppleston Allen answer queries on cumulative impact policies (CIPs) and selling wine at a Christmas fair.

Q: I am planning to organise a Christmas fair at my local hall. I would like to have a mulled wine stall selling wine to visitors of the fair, no other alcohol will be sold. I am unsure of the alcohol content for the mulled wine, but I am sure it will be minimal. Will I need a licence?

A: If you wish to sell mulled wine to visitors you will almost certainly need licensing authorisation, in the form of a Temporary Event Notice, if the hall does not have a Premises Licence. Under the Licensing Act 2003 alcohol is defined as having a strength exceeding 0.5% ABV at the time of sale or supply. If you are buying mulled wine or adding your own wine/port or brandy it is almost certain to be above 0.5% ABV, even allowing for some of the alcohol having evaporated, and as a result this would be deemed a sale of alcohol that requires you to obtain the appropriate licensing authorisation. The other option of course is to sell alcohol free mulled wine instead, which will not require such authorisation. 

Q. I am applying for a new premises licence for alcohol, late night refreshment and regulated entertainment. Poppleston Allen’s CizApp app has alerted me to the fact that my premises is located within the licensing authority’s Cumulative Impact Policy area, and this has been confirmed by my local licensing officer. How would this affect my application?

A. A licensing authority can adopt a Cumulative Impact Policy with regards to a particular area of their jurisdiction if they are satisfied by evidence (usually predominately provided by Police) that there are too many licensed premises within the relevant area and this is undermining the Licensing Objectives (mainly the prevention of crime and disorder, and public nuisance). The Policy normally carries with it a presumption that any new licensing applications or ‘material variations’ (such as an increase in hours or capacity) will be refused, particularly if certain criteria are not met. However, this policy is only triggered where a representation is made against the application and results in a Licensing Committee hearing. The presumption is rebuttable, but the onus is squarely on the applicant to prove that their application will not add to the existing impact, which can be quite difficult to prove. Even so, although successful applications are more challenging, they are by no means impossible - but preparation and strategy are vital.

Firstly, you should carefully review the Local Authority’s Statement of Licensing Policy and in particular the section on the Cumulative Impact Policy - you need to understand which types of applications and premises are affected, the reasoning for adopting the policy and how it affects the determination of a relevant application. Secondly, you should consult with the Responsible Authorities, in particular the Police, Licensing Authority, Environmental Health (and where appropriate) any ‘active’ local residents. The objective here is to get these parties ‘on side’ before submitting your application and this may include revisiting proposed operating hours and offering specific conditions or measures to address relevant concerns and ensure you will promote the Licensing Objectives and not add to the existing impact.

Applications in Cumulative Impact can be tricky, and I would always advise seeking legal advice from a licensing specialist to give you the best chance of success.

Suraj Desor​ is an alcohol and entertainment licensing solicitor who joined Poppleston Allen in 2011, before training and qualifying as a solicitor in 2014.

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