Licensing Act

The Licensing Act 2003 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which applies only to England and Wales.

The Act essentially established a single integrated scheme for licensing premises which are used for the supply of alcohol, to provide ‘regulated entertainment’, or to provide late night refreshment.

Permission to carry on some or all of these licensable activities is now contained in a single licence called the premises licence and this replaces several different and complex schemes.

Key measures contained in the Act include:

  • Flexible opening hours for licensed premises

  • Single premises licences

  • Personal licences 

Licensing objectives

The Act sets out four licensing objectives which must be taken into account when a local authority carries out its functions. They are: the prevention of crime and disorder; public safety; prevention of public nuisance; and the protection of children from harm

Licensable activities

The Act defines "licensable activities" as: the retail sale of alcohol; the supply of alcohol in clubs; the provision of late night refreshment; and the provision of regulated entertainment

In turn, "regulated entertainment" is defined as: a performance of a play; an exhibition of a film; an indoor sporting event; a boxing or wrestling entertainment (both indoors and outdoors), a performance of live musicany playing of recorded music; or a performance of dance

Premises License

A premises licence is required for any premises offering the above licensable activities. However, once a licence is granted it is valid for the life of the business, in contrast to the predecessor schemes which generally had to be renewed annually. The application for a premises licence must set out the terms of operation, and these will become the main conditions of any licence. It must also include a floor plan of the premises and other details.

Personal licences

A personal licence allows a person to sell alcohol, or authorise the sale of alcohol, under the authority of a premises license. Anyone can apply for a personal licence to the licensing authority for the area in which they live. They need to show they have a licensing qualification and a criminal record clean of relevant offences. The local authority can only refuse such an application on police advice. The licence lasts for ten years, and on expiry the licensee should reapply to the authority that issued the original rather than the authority for the area in which they then live.

Anyone who already had a licence under the previous licensing schemes in their name - typically a pub landlord - was able to get a licence without having to have a qualification; this is referred to as the ‘grandfather right’.

Promoting events in unusual spaces / Temporary Events Notices

As a live promoter, the vast majority of venues that you’ll want to approach and operate within will obviously already have a premises license but you should always check. If you plan on promoting an event in an unusual space that doesn’t usually host a live events (such as an art gallery) then you may need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN).

It can be a great idea to promote events in unusual spaces such as art galleries, social clubs, cafes, cinemas, even ships! Such spaces aren’t typically associated with gigs and as a result, press and your intended audience will generally be responsive to this and you’ll be seen to be providing something creatively beyond a generic and formualic gig experience. However, beware of the pitfalls of such events and that the managers and venue staff may not be versed at all in what a live show actually entails and that you’ll need to work extra hard to ensure that everything is in place. It is generally better to try and do this once you have some experience working within conventional venues.

Any person over 18 can serve the local authority and local police with a Temporary Event Notice for an event which would normally need a premises licence, but which would be for a maximum period of 96 hours, and for a maximum number of 499 people. Temporary Event Notices must be submitted at least fourteen days or ten working days before an event is due to start; notice is given to the Council responsible for the area to which the event is to be held. A copy of this notice must be sent to the police that cover that area. The police have 48 hours make a objection. Anyone who does not have a personal licence can give only five notices a year, while a personal licence holder can give 50.

Recent Industry News

The Gen recently reported that the Government is backing a new Live Music Bill to slash the red tape around legislation whereby venues with a capacity of less than 200 will not require a license.

For further advice and support:

Book a Music Clinic / Check out our latest related Events / Sign up to The Gen on our homepage for the latest news on the Live Music Bill.