As the new millennium approached, it was felt by the government that the existing licensing regulations on businesses and organisations selling alcohol were too limiting. Namely, 11pm restrictions on the sale of alcohol and the lengthy application process for extensions were considered to have no place in the 21st century.

In order to tackle this, the 2003 Licensing Act set out guidelines which were believed to be more flexible and easier to follow.

The Licensing Act 2003

Under the Licensing Act there are two main types of licence; personal and premises. A personal licence is granted to an individual and allows them to authorise the sale of alcohol from licenced properties. A premises licence allows licensable activities such as the selling of alcohol, regulated entertainment or late night refreshment to take place.

Applications for licences are sent to the local council who, acting as a ‘licensing authority’, establishes a Licensing Committee. When considering applications, the committee will decide whether the business or organisation meets the four objectives set out by the 2003 Licensing Act. These are outlined below.

  1. The prevention of crime and disorder

This objective seeks to prevent criminal activity from occurring on licenced properties.

In order to meet this, licence holders or applicants should take a proactive approach in its prevention. Clear strategies for recognising and preventing criminal activity should be in place.

A premises risk assessment should be carried out in order to identify the greatest risks. Events which may be more susceptible to crime need extra consideration with the necessary measures taken to prevent it.

It is helpful to consider the layout of premises and how this could possibly obstruct or facilitate crime.

  1. Public safety

Public safety is concerned with the physical safety of those on the premises.

Premises should comply with fire and food regulations, guidance for which can be found online.

It also applies to specific needs such as disabilities. The 1995 Disability Discrimination Act sought to end the level of discrimination faced by people with disabilities. It established their right to access goods, services and facilities. If a licence holder or applicant’s premises are not sufficiently accessible for people with disabilities, they may be asked to take ‘reasonable steps’ to amend them.

  1. The prevention of public nuisance

In the 2003 Licensing Act, ‘public nuisance’ is defined broadly. It is predominantly concerned with noise, light pollution and noxious smells.

There are a number of ways in which licence holders and applicants can seek to meet this objective. Keeping windows and doors closed, closing outside areas at 11pm and ensuring there are visible signs to remind customers of the need to reduce noise can all help to avoid causing a public nuisance through noise.

  1. The protection of children from harm

This objective seeks to protect children from harm which could be moral, physical or psychological. It endeavours to limit their exposure to alcohol consumption, gambling, violence and adult entertainment.

One way to ensure this is by implementing age restrictions on entry to the premises.

Failure to meet the four objectives

It is important to be aware of the four licensing objectives and seek to meet them. They provide a pivotal element of the 2003 Licensing Act and must be complied with by all businesses and organisations selling or seeking to sell alcohol.

Failure to comply may result in a fine while consistent shortcomings could see the removal of your licence or the closure of your premises.

Farleys offers expert advice, if you would like our assistance, call us on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.