Q. I have a background working in pubs and I have been asked to arrange the bar at my kids’ school fete. Will I need a premises licence or are there any exemptions that I might benefit from?
A. There is no exemption under the Licensing Act 2003 that allows the general sale of alcohol at a school fete, so you will need licensing authorisation. This could be in the form of a premises licence; however, a temporary event notice (TEN) is probably more appropriate and cost-effective in this case and quicker to obtain than a premises licence.
It is important to bear in mind however that TENs are subject to a maximum capacity of 499 persons. If you anticipate that the capacity at the fete is likely to exceed 499 persons at any point on the day, then you may still be able to use a TEN, but you would need to rely on off sales from the designated bar area – with the TEN covering that specific area.
While it is possible to operate a TEN in this way, it is not always straightforward, and the local authorities consulted on the TEN will most likely expect the bar area to be sectioned off in some way and could require the capacity to be monitored.
If you intend to use a TEN for the event then be sure to submit this in good time. TENs must be received by the licensing authority 10 clear working days prior to the event (i.e. not including weekends, bank holidays, the day of submission or the day of the event).
If you miss this deadline then you may still be able to submit a Late TEN, which only requires five clear working days, however this is riskier as any objection from the police or environmental health will result in the late TEN being refused without a hearing or any right of appeal.
It is unlikely that a school will have exceeded the annual allowance for TENs, but it is worth checking just to be sure before you apply. Coming off the back of Covid, the Alcohol Licensing (Coronavirus) (Regulatory Easements) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 temporarily increased the TENs allowance for the years 2022 and 2023 to 20 TENs per year and increased the maximum number of days on which TENs may be held to 26.
Although there is no exemption under the Licensing Act 2003 to help with the bar at the fete, there is an exemption which can benefit any raffle or tombola where alcohol is a prize.
If alcohol is provided as a prize in a raffle then it will not be deemed a licensable activity (and no licence or TEN will be required) if the alcohol is in a sealed container and the raffle falls within the definition of an “incidental lottery” for the purposes of the Gambling Act 2005.
School fete raffles will generally be deemed an incidental lottery, however there are specific rules that must be followed (this includes that it must not be the main reason for running the event, tickets must be sold in physical form and at the event only and money raised is not for private gain (e.g. charitable purposes), so we suggest seeking specialist advice on this if you are in any doubt.