Christmas is fast approaching and operators should ensure that any Temporary Event Notices required for Christmas functions (either additional hours or activities) are submitted in good time and certainly no later than 10 clear working days before the function, which is the statutory deadline.
Remember to check your New Year’s Eve authorisations: whilst any ‘converted’ licences should contain the automatic 24 hour exemption for the supply of alcohol on New Year’s Eve, this will not cover music and dancing unless you have specifically applied for this. Again, if you need to, apply for a Temporary Event Notice in good time!
The likelihood of routine enforcement inspections is also perhaps greater than ever in the run up to Christmas. Act now to ensure that you have all of the correct documentation displayed and on site and to ensure that all relevant staff are fully briefed on Licence conditions and hours. These simple steps will go a long way to ensuring any inspection proceeds smoothly.
The festive period also often increases the requirement for door supervision.
The Department for Culture Media and Sport have published a Consultation on the “Proposal to Introduce a New Process for Electronic Applications” under the Licensing Act 2003. The consultation is perhaps some time overdue given that the EU Services Directive requires Licensing Authorities to accept electronic applications by 28 December 2009. However, it does at least propose various changes to the current procedure, which for once benefit operators - see full report below. The Government proposes that cigarette vending machines will be banned from 1 October 2011 - full report on page 4 below.
Licensing continues to be a political football, with both main parties proposing licensing measures in their annual conferences. Does this mean the end of the Mandatory Code reported on in our last review? See summary below at page 5.
Are you paying too much in copyright fees for the playing of music in your premises? Copyright fees are collected by the PRS (for the copyright in the music and lyrics) and PPL (for the copyright in the sound recording). A landmark decision has been made by the Copyright Tribunal that the fees charged by PPL since the beginning of 2005 are unreasonable. The Tribunal did not make any order for PPL to reimburse copyright users for the tariffs paid under the new tariff. However, this seemed to be on the basis that the Tribunal did not consider itself suitably placed to make the relevant calculations. If, however, the parties were unable to agree all the cost issues resulting from the Tribunal’s decision then further submissions could be made to the Tribunal. This is therefore likely to pave the way for operators to apply for refunds from PPL for the relevant period. Under section 152 of the Act, PPL can appeal on any point of law arising from a decision of the Tribunal to the High Court on a matter of law. It is widely anticipated that it will do so.
Fruit Machines/ Amusement With Prizes (AWP) Machines: Permits issued under section 34 of the Gaming Act 1968 regarding the use of amusement with prizes (AWP) machines in non-gambling premises expired on 31 July 2009. It is not possible to renew such permits when they expire. As such, premises such as chip shops and taxi offices are no longer permitted to have AWP machines on their premises. However, where a premises is authorised to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises under a Premises Licence, it is possible to obtain authorisation under the automatic notification procedure for up to two machines; or by an application for more than two. Skills with prizes machines (for example, quiz machines) are not controlled in the same way and therefore may be provided without a Gaming Machine Permit: See full report and analysis at page 5 below.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (formerly BERR) has published a Code of Best Practice on Service Charges, Tips, Gratuities and Cover Charges. The Code provides guidance on compliance, following the change on 1 October requiring that all eligible workers must receive the national minimum wage in base pay with any tips being paid on top. The Code embodies four principles to ensure transparency for customers and workers alike.
Licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has announced that the Government intends to consult on giving police a discretionary power to allow late temporary event notice applications for low-risk events. This news will surely be greeted enthusiastically by the trade, as there is currently no way round the 10-working-day notice provisions, meaning late bookings must often be refused. Following the report on the introduction of Minor Variations in our last Review, it seems that th
e procedure has been little used in practice to date. The restrictions on using the procedure for changes in relation to hours for alcohol and increasing the capacity for drinking alcohol, mean that as predicted use of this procedure is likely to be limited.
The relevant SIA Licences due for renewal? Remember that SIA licences are granted for a period of 3 years only and many will shortly be due for renewal. Operators will need to be vigilant to ensure that employees’ licences are renewed in time and that the expiry date of licences held by individuals contracted in are checked as a matter of course.