An introduction to Licensing Law (page 2)

The Premises Licence

Under the act there are numerous licensable activities listed and pubs offer several of them so must be licensed – these include the sale of alcohol, late night refreshment and entertainment.

Firstly to apply for a premises licence the applicant must be at least 18 years old.

As part of the process for applying for a new premises licence the applicant must complete what is known as an “operating schedule“. It will contain details of what licensable activities will take place there, opening hours, who the DPS will be and what the business will do to achieve the 4 Licensing Objectives.

Where a pub changes hand the new operators of the business will inherit the outgoing operator’s Premises Licence and the operating schedule contained therein. The new operator cannot alter this schedule without formally applying for a variation to the LA and the local police (who have a formal interest in the licence). Other interested parties such as local residents, other businesses in the area and the local council in its guise as Fire Officer also have the right to make representations about any changes and their input can result in rejection or amendment of any proposal made to the LA.

The premises licence must be displayed in a prominent place in the pub and contain a synopsis of the operating schedule and details of the owner of the premises and who the DPS is.

When a pub changes hands operationally or is sold on to new owners the LAW and the local chief of police has to be informed, the latter may object to the transfer of the Premises Licence if s/he believes the crime prevention objective may be undermined.

The Licensing Act 2003 theoretically permits 24 hour opening, although this is very rare. The operating schedule submitted as part of a Premises Licence application will include the hours that a pub wants to open and these are detailed as a daily schedule. As with the rest of the licence local residents/businesses/police can object to the opening hours and the LA may use its discretion to amend the opening hours accordingly.

Entertainment is regulated by the licensing act and as such provision of the following types of entertainment must be included on the operating schedule:

  • live or recorded music (not juke boxes or background systems) or dancing (or any entertainment of a similar description)
  • indoor sporting events (excluding customers playing darts/skittles/pool)
  • showing films
  • provision of the facilities for people to take part in making music or dancing such as a dance floor


New regulations came into force on June 27th 2014 governing the provision of entertainment and deregulates the following activities between the hours of 08.00 and 23.00:

  • performance of a play in front of an audience of 500 persons or less;
  • performance of dance in front of an audience of 500 persons or less (unless it is relevant entertainment within the meaning of Schedule 3 para 2A Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 – i.e. certain forms of sexual entertainment); and
  • indoor sporting events in front of an audience of 1,000 persons or less.


The way live music in particular is licensed was amended by the enactment of the Live Music Act 2012, how this affects pubs is covered in a separate article.

Children In Pubs

The way law applies to children in pubs allows under 18s to enter licensed premises in a family friendly and safe way. Whilst the legal drinking age remains 18 year of age, 16 year olds can drink beer, wine or cider with a table meal if accompanied by an over-18.

The Licensing Act makes it an offence to:

  • serve children under 16 in premises used exclusively or primarily for selling alcohol if they are not accompanied by an over-18
  • allow unaccompanied under 16s to be on the premises between midnight and 5am when the premises are open for the sale of alcohol during those hours (this includes beer gardens and outside areas)
  • purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol for the consumption by a child (except as part of a table meal for beer, cider or wine)
  • buying or attempting to buy alcohol by a child

Breaches of Mandatory Conditions of a Premises Licence (such as serving the under-aged) now carries an unlimited fine and/or a six month prison sentence.

For more information on Challenge 25, and to help you run an appropriate ID program to ensure under 18s aren’t served click here and for a quick way to work out if someone is over 18 click here.

The Designated Premises Supervisor

The DPS is the person named on the Premises Licence is the point of contact for the LA, the police or the fire service. In order to be nominated and then named as the DPS the applicant must hold what is called a Personal Licence. The DPS is generally the person in day to day control of a pub – what in old parlance was the “landlord” dersignated Premises Supervisor, hence the applicant must be at least 18 years old.the transfer of the Premises Licence if s/heor  “landlady”.

The DPS authorises other persons who may not hold a personal licence to sell alcohol on the premises and thus does not have to be present every time a beer is served. The DPS can take their time off and holidays by this means and can leave the premises in the hands of staff as long as they can be contacted if problems arise. If you are a DPS or Premises Licence holder you should note that you can be held responsible for criminal acts committed by your staff under the Licensing Act.

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