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Taking on Licensed Premises: Bitesize

News article topics: Receivership, Training

Date: 27 April 2021

Taking on Licensed Premises: Bitesize
In our recent free webinar, legal director at law firm TLT’s licensing team, Piers Warne and Ben Elder, director of operations at leisure sector specialist, Licensed Solutions, gave a legal and practical lesson in the importance of protecting licences at licensed premises. This is a complex and niche area but highly relevant to our profession in the wake of the pandemic.*

*Please also refer to Nara’s recently updated Guidance Note GN22 Powers to Trade 
 

Key facts about licences 

  • Anyone intending to conduct business where licensable activities are provided needs authority under a premises licence eg fixed charge receiver.
  • From cinemas, late night takeaways and pubs to fuel stations, festivals and even schools, premises that need licensing are wide-ranging. Sale of alcohol, late night refreshment and/or regulated entertainment are all covered under premises licences
  • Each licence is granted subject to conditions and restrictions particular to that premises.
  • A licence is granted ‘forever’ – no fixed term, unless event is temporary eg festival or the licence lapses (such as due to bankruptcy or insolvency of the holder)
  • Licence can be transferred an unlimited number of times.
  • Licences to sell alcohol are accompanied by requirement for a Designated Premises Supervisor who must hold a personal licence.
  • Relevant law: Licensing Act 2003.

Conditions

  • Non-mandatory conditions in the licence differ from premises to premises, so it’s essential to scrutinise them as a priority. Examples may include a requirement to employ door staff or a minimum number of staff, operate CCTV or limit capacity.
  • It’s a criminal offence to breach both mandatory and non-mandatory conditions.

Holding onto the licence in event of insolvency

  • In the event of insolvency, business administration, voluntary arrangement or bankruptcy (but not fixed charge receivership), a premises licence lapses with immediate effect and licensable activity must stop.
  • There is a 28-day window to have it reinstated – this should be a priority.
  • If 28-day window is missed, there can be an opportunity to reinstate the company, in which case the licence would re-enact as if it was never lapsed.
  • If the licence cannot be reinstated, it must be reapplied for – a lengthy and costly process (requirement for plans, advertising, application fees, possible objections and issues in obtaining new licences because of cumulative impact policies, 1-2 month delays) which may not succeed or may include new conditions.
  • Specialists such as TLT and Licensed Solutions can help administrators ensure the licence is quickly reinstated ensuring business continuity. 

Fixed Charge Receivership

  • As it is not considered an insolvency event, an FCR does not automatically trigger a lapse in premises licence, which continues to operate.
  • Premises licence holders have a legal right to surrender the licence. Disgruntled business owners may try to do this to prevent trading. Note it is common in these situations for the owner not to follow procedure correctly, leading to swift reinstatement, if the proper procedure is not followed. 
  • Recommended actions: 
    • Apply for a Notification of Interest with local authority, which is obliged to notify you if anything changes to the premises licence such as a surrender.
    • Transfer the licence. This usually needs the consent of the licence holder but can in some circumstances be done without their permission, though specialist advice is recommended.
    • In event of insolvency, work closely with administrators to ensure premises licence is reinstated promptly and at least within the 28 day window.
    • Appoint managers with specialist knowledge required to operate licensed premises. Service providers such as Licensed Solutions can either train up managers or supply managers from its bank of experienced operators, who hold active personal licences. 

Be aware certain settings require other types of licences: 
  • Pavement – cafes and bars with tables and chairs on pavements (especially relevant during Covid), 
  • Weddings 
  • Gambling venues including betting shops and bingo halls, 
  • Places operating gaming machines, including pubs and arcades
  • “Special treatments” involving potentially harmful physical contact with customers, such as massages, tattoos and piercings.

For more information contact 

Piers Warne at TLT: piers.warne@tltsolicitors.com< or 07585 961 459
Ben Elder, Licensed Solutions: ben@licensedsolutions.co.uk or 07917 180 180

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