Reminder to check your licence for Christmas trading

By Jonathan Smith, partner, Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

(image: Getty/carlosgaw)
(image: Getty/carlosgaw)

Related tags Licensing Legislation Health and safety

Be careful, it will not have escaped people’s notice that this year both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on a Sunday.

The reason you need to be careful is that many premises licences, when they were “grandfathered” over into a premises licence from the old Justices’ Licences and Special Hours Certificates in 2005, were "grandfathered” over with the old Sunday hours permitted by the Licensing Act 1964 which ran until 22:30​ on Sundays or 00:30​ on Sundays and 0200 on a bank holiday Sunday where a Special Hours Certificate was in force. 

There was a general extension in the 1964 Licensing Act which permitted the sale of alcohol to continue from the end of permitted hours on New Year's Eve to the start of permitted hours on New Year’s Day, but this was not carried over as of right to all Premises Licences in 2005, and a separate variation was required to permit this extension in 2005.  There was nothing similar for Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.

In summary therefore, you should do the following:

  • Check the hours on a Sunday on your premises licence for the sale of alcohol, provision of late night refreshment (sale of hot food and drink after 23:00​) and the entertainment you want to provide.  If you are providing entertainment such as live music which you do not normally do, is this permitted by your Premises Licence?
  • Having checked the hours on Sundays then check your Premises Licences, both under non-standard timings and also in the conditions (we have known extensions to appear in any of Annexes 1 to 3) to see whether or not the hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are extended into Christmas Day and New Year’s Day respectively for the licensable activities you need.  
  • Having checked the position with your non-standard timings and whether there are any non-standard timings for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve into the following day, you are then in a position to understand what hours you can trade to on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve into New Year's Day for each of the licensable activities you want to provide.
  • If you need an extension to the hours then you will need to issue a Temporary Event Notice, but remember you must give at least 10 clear working days’ notice for a Temporary Event Notice, and that you are limited to 499 people to be in attendance on the evening in question, including any staff and performers.  The deadline for issuing a Temporary Event Notice for Christmas Eve into Christmas Day is for it to arrive with the Licensing Authority on 8thDecember 2023 for a Standard TEN or 15th December for a Late TEN ​and for an extension for the hours from New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day this would need to arrive by 13th December 2023 for a Standard TEN or 20th December for a Late TEN (but remember a Police or EHO objection to a Late TEN effectively acts as a veto)
  • Do not leave issuing your Temporary Event Notices too late since many Police Licensing Officers at this time of year will be inundated with Temporary Event Notices, and will struggle to deal with the volume and may therefore make a representation on the basis they do not have enough information.  The earlier therefore the better.
  • Ensure that when you issue your Temporary Event Notice you have carried out a risk assessment for the night in question, and be ready to answer any questions from your local Police Licensing Officer around the number of door security you are going to provide on the night, any additional staffing, the use of any plastic or polycarbonate glasses and the use of any outside areas.  It will be sensible to have such a written risk assessment to hand.
  • Check the conditions on your Premises Licence do not in some way hinder you opening later on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day.  For instance, is there a condition on your Premises Licence that an outside area cannot be used after 22:00​, or that the last admission time is 22:00​.  You may in such circumstances wish to issue your Temporary Event Notice to run before any time restricted condition so that that condition does not apply during the currency of the Temporary Event Notice.  However, remember it would be open for the Police Licensing Officer or Environmental Health to ask that such conditions are repeated on to the Temporary Event Notice.
  • Finally, just remember that if you issue a Temporary Event Notice which runs from one day into a second day i.e., it runs for a period which goes beyond midnight, then that Temporary Event Notice counts as two days towards your 26 days you can use a Temporary Event Notice for a premises in 2023, and 2 days of your 21 days that you can use a Temporary Event Notice in 2024.

Jonathan Smith​ is a partner at Poppleston Allen

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