Published: 26 October 2022 by Paula Kioko
In this episode, licensing Associate Solicitor, Suraj Desor, discusses the most common mistakes people make when applying for a premises licence application and shares insight on how to avoid these.
Find the transcript below:
Welcome and welcome back to the Poppleston Allen podcast where we discuss licensing topics to help you and also me, get a better understanding of what licensing is all about.
Today I am joined by Suraj Desor who is a licensing solicitor here at our Nottingham office and he deals with all things alcohol licensing. Suraj is joining me today to discuss the most common mistakes people make when applying for a premises licence.
How are you doing today, Suraj?
I’m well, how are you doing Paula?
I’m well just very cold
It’s getting to that time of the season
I literally went autumn shopping the other day for new jumpers and everything. But, to just get a better understanding of what we’re talking about today, can you just give a small overview of what a premises licence is and the activities it does permit?
So, most people obtain a premises licence which is sometimes called a liquor licence or an alcohol licence for the sale of alcohol for on or off the premises, sometimes both. However, the licence allows more than just that. It allows what’s called regulated entertainment such as playing of recorded music, live music, films, performance or dance, indoor sporting events and even wrestling and showing of music as well as permission to supply hot food and drink between 11pm and 5am.
And it’s not just vital for permitting alcohol sales and different styles of leisure operations, but it’s also important for food takeaway businesses so that they have the appropriate permissions in place and the licence is granted to the premises rather than a specific individual. So, you can see securing your premises licence can significantly increase the value of your property and alternatively if you have a premises licence and it’s revoked or it lapses, it can do the opposite and significantly reduce the value of your property.
So this is definently a licence everyone wants and does need
Certainly, in most cases, yeah, you’re right
So, tell us about the most common mistakes people make when actually completing the application?
Well, if we go over some of the most common mistakes, the first one I’d probably mention is confusing the premises licence holder with the designated premises supervisor with the personal licence holder, so there’s a lot of names there that we can unpack.
The premises licence holder is the person or the company that holds the premises licence whereas the designated premises supervisor, known as the ‘DPS’ in short, is required to be named on any premises licence which authorises the sale of alcohol.
They’re effectively the person who has day to day control and has management of the premises and they need to have a personal licence. A personal licence is specific to an individual who’s passed a course and made an appropriate application for that personal licence, and they can be several personal licence holders working at the premises but only one DPS who has day to day control overall.
Another common mistakes is paying the incorrect fee, the fee for a premises licence application is based upon the non-domestic rate of the value of the premises and generally ranges around £100 to £635 although it can be much higher for large events like festivals and stadiums, there are also increased fees for larger venues like nightclubs and bars that are exclusively or primarily used for the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises and if you don’t get the fee right your application might get rejected or put on hold pending the correct payment of the fee and any delay might affect your opening day for example.
Another thing to consider is the hours and activities, you need to decide what hours you want for different types of licensable activities therefore for example, the sale of alcohol, regulated entertainment, or late-night refreshment and whether the sale of alcohol will be on and or off the premises and whether entertainment and late-night refreshment will be supplied indoors or outdoors or both.
Also, as part of the application process you need to ensure that you’ve got the operating schedule correct because this is part of your application, and it sets out details of how the premises will operate and any particular measures or conditions you’re willing to propose. You need to consider and explain how you plan to manage your premises, your employees, your customers to ensure you promote the licensing objectives. And remember anything you put in your operating schedule can legitimately be converted into conditions by the licensing authority once the licence is granted, so be careful what information you’re putting in the operating schedule, beyond that which is necessary and therefore in any doubt make sure you caveat any additional voluntary measures as for information only and not to be converted to conditions on the premises licence to avoid any confusion.
Any measures you will operate to ensure you promote the 4 licensing objectives that you’re happy to be converted into conditions on the licence should be stated in this particular section under the operating schedule details. So, for example, conditions around the operation of CCTV at the premises, or use of challenge 21 or challenge 25 as part of your age verification process as to sale of alcohol.
Another common mistake is in relation to the plans of your premises. Now you need to have licensing plans that accompany the application, and they should provide details of the boundaries, points of access, toilets, stairs, steps, escape routes and locations where you will be carrying out licensable activities. Permanent or semi-permanent items that could affect people’s abilities to use exit routes must also be shown, so for example fix seating, the bar or pool tables. And moving on from that, if your premises has a number of floors then it’s a bit of an obvious point but make sure every single floor plan is included in your licence application if customers will be using that particular area.
Another point to remember is, if you come to vary your layout in plans in the future, perhaps on the ground floor make sure you make it clear that the other floors remain unchanged otherwise the licensing authority might replace your three floor plans with a one floor premises if you only supply a plan for the ground floor for example and forgot to provide the floor plans for the first and second floor, which could be problematic because you wouldn’t then have the first and second floor potentially licensed.
You also need to show proof of entitlement to work in the UK so if you’re applying as an individual for a premises licence you need to show that proof of entitlement and in any event in respect of the designated premises supervisor, again, they need to show proof of entitlement to work in the UK.
Another common mistake is forgetting to nominate your DPS, where you propose to sale alcohol as part of your premises licence permission you need to nominate someone to be your DPS, with the possible exception of community premises. So don’t forget to include the consent of that DPS, who must of course hold a personal licence.
So, once you have all the above, you can complete your premises licence application which you can usually submit online via the Government website and then it will go through the consultation period.
Going off your last point, let’s say for example, I wanted to apply for a personal licence or every normal person, what would we need in order to apply for one?
So, in order to apply for a personal licence the individual must be:
Over 18 years of age;
Not have forfeited a personal licence during the past five years;
They need to be entitled to work in the United Kingdom, provide right to work or immigration status;
They also need to hold an accredited licensing qualification, such as the award for personal licence holders (APLH) and they need to supply two passport style photographs signed by a solicitor, professional person or a person of standing in the community;
And on top of that, provide a criminal record check and disclosure of convictions, you can apply for your basic disclose certificate from disclosure and barring service – known as the DBS – and just to note, if the person has any unspent relevant offence or foreign offences, the police are notified and they may object to the application, and if that objection is not withdrawn the licensing authority will hold a hearing where a decision to grant of refuse the personal licence is made;
And finally, you need to provide the appropriate fee and complete an application form, which needs to be submitted.
Going off on what we just discussed about the most common mistakes people make, what can the downside of these mistakes be?
Well, the application could be rejected for not providing the required information and documents and that could delay the potential grant of your application particularly if you’re looking to open in a couple of months. It could affect opening timescales if you don’t have your licence in place, the way you’d like to operate or if you have not requested the right permission your application might be granted but not operationally workable for your business.
Also, poorly written premises licence application can be more likely to attract a lot of negative representations, otherwise known as objections. These representations can come from the police, environmental health, trading standards, the fire service, the licensing authority or any of the relevant responsible authorities. It could also come from other persons including local residents who have an interest in the area or other businesses in the area and this can lead to a contested hearing in front of the licensing sub-committee and could threaten the grant of your licence or result with it being granted with onerous conditions for example.
So now that we know what to avoid, how long should and does the application take?
So once the application is submitted there is a 28-day consultation period and if no objections are received, no representations are made against the application then it will be duly granted by the council following the end of that consultation period and then on grant take immediate effect, if you’ve requested it to do so?
However, if representations are received and these cannot be resolved or withdrawn the the matter proceeds to a hearing which is supposed to take place within four weeks of the end of the consultation period, although with some councils there can be a little bit of a delay. At the hearing, the licensing sub-committee will consider representations and they make a decision as to whether to grant the application and the licence, to reject it or to alter the terms or conditions of your premises licence and grant it with altered terms and conditions.
Once you obtain a premises licence, it’s valid indefinitely although it can be lost at a premises licence review hearing and it can also lapse if the holder dies, becomes incapacitated or insolvent and no premises licence transfer application has been made in time.
So, what happens if despite the content of the application, everything is done correctly, it’s perfect, the application is actually refused. What does on do then?
Firstly, given the complexity of this situation, I would urge licensees who are in this situation and have had their application refused to take legal advice from licensing specialists who help advice on the best course of action. If the application is refused by the local councils licensing sub-committee following the objections, there is the option to appeal the decision to the magistrates court witing 21 days of receipt of the decision and you would have to show that the licensing committee’s decision is effectively wrong and this can be difficult to show and the appeal process is costly and can take significant time to reach an outcome, alternatively in some instances you might want to take time to consider the reasons for refusal, the objections and then in time re-apply with a fresh application, amended permissions and including any additional measures to better address the previous concerns, depending on your timescales.
Well thank you for joining and listening to this month’s episode based. Based on all the advice that Suraj has given today, we hope that we were able to give you a better insight of all the mistakes to avoid when applying for your premises licence.
If you have any queries or questions regarding this, please free to contact Suraj on his email on S.Desor@popall.co.uk or please feel free to contact any of our other licensing solicitors which you can find on our website at www.popall.co.uk and Poppleston Allen on all our social media platforms.
Thank you for listening.
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