More changes on licensing

HUGH ROWLAND, licensing partner at law firm Gotelee & Goldsmith, explains how further changes in the rules are on the way for licensed premises

From April, irresponsible drink promotions and the dispensing of alcohol by one person directly into the mouth of another (“the dentist’s chair” is but one example) have been banned and the provision of free drinking water on licensed premises is required.

Banned “irresponsible drink promotions” are those which are “carried on for the purpose of encouraging the sale or supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises in a manner which carries a significant risk of leading or contributing to crime and disorder, prejudice to public safety, public nuisance or harm to children”.

Promotions such as “all you can drink for �10” are now illegal.

From October 1, it will become mandatory to have in place an age verification policy (for instance “challenge 25”) and to offer smaller size measures of alcohol (for instance 125ml glasses of wine).

A “responsible person” (defined as the premises licence holder, the designated premises supervisor, or a person authorised to sell alcohol) will be liable on conviction for breach of any of these conditions to a fine of up to �20,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

The conditions will be deemed to be entered on the premises licence and do not need to be printed on it to be effective. It is essential that these conditions are brought to the attention of all those working in the industry.

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Looking further ahead, the Queen’s Speech in May made it clear that the Government would be looking carefully at the licensing regime introduced by the Licensing Act 2003 and that changes would be made.

The forthcoming Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill will, in the words of the Home Secretary, “tackle the drink fuelled violence which is blighting many of our communities”.

The total costs to the tax payer of alcohol related crime and disorder is between �8billion and �13bn.

As a first step, the Home Office is consulting on “Rebalancing the Licensing Act”.

Proposals considered in the consultation paper include increasing powers to refuse or revoke licences, increasing licence fees both generally and also to pay for policing late night drinking, banning below cost sales, an overhaul of temporary event notices, revocation of licences for non payment of fees, extending the proximity criterion for residents representations and many others.

If you want to have your say you have until September 8. See