Two hour extension available to licensed premises on each day
One of our previous articles has already heralded the proposed relaxation of hours relating to the Queen's 90th Birthday celebrations on 10th & 11th June 2016.
Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003 provides the authority for the making of licensing orders on "occasions of international, national or local significance". We have already seen examples of this happening most recently in respect of the 2015 World Cup. Ironically, this relaxation coincides with Euro 16 matches involving both England and Wales, which are the jurisdictions to which the Order will apply.
Following a short consultation the Government has published the draft regulations which propose the extended licensing hours entitled "Licensing Act 2003 (Her Majesty the Queen's Birthday Licensing Hours) Order 2016” which is an entirely logical title if not entirely catchy!
The Proposal (as previously outlined in broad terms) is to extend the hours for licensable activities (to the extent that they are not already authorised on the licence) from 11:00pm on the night of Friday, 10th June 2016 until 01:00am on the morning of Saturday, 11th June and again from 11:00pm on Saturday, 11th June until 01:00am on the morning of Sunday, 12th June.
Therefore, in simple, terms, a maximum 2 hour extension is available to licensed premises on each day.
It is important to realise that the Order does not include off-licences and late night refreshment houses (with no authorisation to sell alcohol on the premises) nor on licensed premises whose terminal hour is earlier than 11:00pm or indeed 01:00am or beyond.
In other words, the Order only benefits those premises holding premises licences or club premises certificates in England and Wales which permit the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises until at least 11:00pm. The extension is then until 01:00am for those licensable activities.
If the sale of alcohol on the licence ceases before 11:00pm but regulated entertainment is permitted until 11:00pm or beyond then only regulated entertainment will be extended until 01:00am.
There are a couple of potential issues arising from the details of this.
Firstly, the extension does not apply to the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises. If you are a straightforward off-licence then the position is quite simple. No extension applies.
If you are a pub who has a licence until 11:00pm or beyond permitting the sale of alcohol for consumption on and off the premises then only the "on" element is extended and not the "off". That again seems relatively simple until you consider the quite common situation of the pub with an unlicensed beer garden or patio area. These areas can quite legitimately be serviced in reliance on the off-sales element of the licence. That would not be the case during the period of extension. It is important therefore to check whether the relevant external space forms part of the licensed area or not. This will equally be true in a restaurant with external dining areas as some have them included within the licensed area and some do not.
Secondly, all conditions attaching to the premises licence or club premises certificate will continue to apply during the period of extension. That seems entirely logical in the sense that any requirement to have door staff, have a suitable CCTV system or maintain a refusals register should quite reasonably be required to continue until the premises close.
There are, however, licences out there which have conditions requiring all external furniture to be brought inside at a specified time. That time is normally at or around the normal closing time of the premises. If such a condition continues to apply then the premises may find themselves in the operationally unenviable position of having to store their furniture indoors during the period of the extension. That could significantly limit available space within the interior of the premises. Customers might find themselves toasting the Queen surrounded by furniture and planters!
One would hope that since the spirit of the extension is to permit later trading in celebration of the Queen's birthday that a sensible view would be taken by enforcement officers with regards to these relatively rare anomalies.
A final point worthy of mention is that whilst the proposed extension of hours should boost trade and be altogether beneficial to licensed businesses the normal rules will continue to apply in terms of the requirement to promote the licensing objectives and indeed being the subject of other related legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act particularly in relation to the use of properly licensed external areas until a later terminal hour.