Licensing Act 2003 explained
If you are planning to sell alcohol, provide regulated entertainment (live or recorded music, films, plays etc) or supply late night refreshments you need to apply for a licence to do that activity under the Licensing Act 2003.
The sale or supply of alcohol includes both on-sales (pubs, bars, restaurants), and off-sales (off-licences, supermarkets, convenience stores) as well as registered clubs (where alcohol is supplied). In addition to requiring a premises licence for the sale of alcohol, individuals may also be required to obtain a personal licence.
The provision of regulated entertainment is defined as specific activities that takes place in the presence of an audience for the entertainment of that audience and are provided with a view to profit. Details of these activities can be found on our licensable activities page.
The provision of late night refreshment is the sale of hot food and/or hot (non-alcoholic) drink whether for consumption on or off the premises (this includes mobile units and stalls) to the public between 11pm and 5am. This includes takeaways, restaurants and petrol stations that sell hot food.
Authorisation to carry out some or all of these licensable activities is contained in a single premises licence, club premises certificate or temporary event notice. This is issued by the licensing authority and authorises the premises or location where the activity is to take place. These licences may be permanent, for a limited period, or for one-off events.
Under the Immigration Act 2016 licensing authorities are prohibited from issuing premises and personal licences to anyone who is illegally present in the UK or not permitted to carry out work in a licensable activity. The application forms set out the evidence of entitlement to work in the UK to be provided as part of the application.
Permissions under the Licensing Act 2003
Temporary Event Notices
A Temporary Event Notice can be used to authorise small-scale events on a one-off or occasional basis involving no more than 499 persons. They can be used to carry out activities at unlicensed premises such as community, school and charity fundraising events. They may also be used to increase the scope of the licence at existing licensed premises such as allowing additional activities or to extend the hours of existing activities.
A Premises Licence is a permanent licence, granted in respect of a specific location, which authorises the licence holder to carry on any of the above mentioned licensable activities. Unless a limited duration is specified in the application, a premises licence will be valid indefinitely, unless revoked. An annual fee is payable on the anniversary of the grant of each licence.
A Personal Licence authorises individuals to supervise the sale of alcohol where a premises licence is in force.
Club Premises Certificates
A Club Premises Certificate is a specific type of licence, only available to members clubs. They can be used to carry on any of the above mentioned licensable activities.
Who can apply?
Any of the following may apply for a premises licence:
- anyone who carries on a business in the premises to which the application relates
- a recognised club
- a charity
- a health service body
- a person who is registered under the Care Standards Act 2000 in relation to an independent hospital
- a chief police officer of a force in England and Wales
- anyone discharging a statutory function under Her Majesty's prerogative
- a person from an educational institute; or any other permitted person.
Applicants must not be under 18 years of age.
Key Measures in the Licensing Act 2003
The Licensing Act 2003 requires the Licensing Authority to uphold four equally important licensing objectives when carrying out its licensing functions, these are:
- the prevention of crime and disorder: for example drug-related problems, disorder, drunkenness and anti-social behaviour
- public safety: the physical safety of people using the venue
- the prevention of public nuisance: for example noise from music, litter and light pollution
- the protection of children from harm: including moral, psychological and physical harm.
Comment of licence application or seeking a review
Residents, businesses and legal authorities (for example the police or the councils noise team) are able to raise representations for or against new applications and applications to vary a premises licence and club premises certificates. They can also seek the review of a licensed premises if it is causing problems. We will also investigate complaints relating to licensed and unlicensed premises.
Statement of licensing policy
Our licensing policy sets out how we normally apply our functions under the Licensing Act, particularly when making decisions on relevant applications in respect of premises licences, club premises certificates, personal licences and temporary event notices. We review our licensing policy regularly and when necessary publish revised versions reflecting changes brought about by new legislation. To view full details read our statement of licensing policy.
Secretary of State's Guidance
When determining applications and setting our Licensing Policy, we are also required to consider the Secretary of State's Guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003.
Most applications made under the Licensing Act 2003 must be served on one or more of the Responsible Authorities.
Details of the fees payable in respect of alcohol and entertainment licences are available on our fees page.
Most large outdoor events which include licensable activities will need to be authorised by a premises licence. As part of the event planning process, we also advise event organisers to consider contacting the Council’s Safety Advisory Group which is a multi-agency body that can obtain advice from many of the statutory bodies with responsibility for public safety, including the police, fire and ambulance services, the highways authority, and other partners.