Q&A Breach of use of external areas

  • Date: 10 March 2016
  • Author/Solicitor: Graeme Cushion
  • Source: Reproduced from the Publican's Morning Advertiser

Q:  I am the manager of a busy pub which has numerous conditions on its licence particularly controlling the use of external areas and the taking of glasses and drinks out there.   Following a recent visit by a Licensing Enforcement Officer they are suggesting that we are in breach of a couple of those conditions in that we had customers outside drinking later than they should have been.  They have asked me to attend their offices for an interview under caution.  Is this serious?  Will I lose my licence?

A:  The invitation to the interview under caution is part of the investigative process and does not necessarily mean that you are in serious trouble.  If there have not been previous problems then it is unlikely that you would be prosecuted for a relatively minor breach as long as you can establish that you have remedied the situation in the meantime.  This means taking proper steps such that the outside area is controlled as per the licensed conditions.  For example, you may wish to consider having clearly documented instructions to your management team to carry out regular checks on the outside space to ensure that it is clear after the terminal hour permitted under the conditions.  These checks can be logged as part of your due diligence.   It is impossible to control whether the authorities ultimately review the licence but again the decision may well be swayed considerably by what remedial action you have taken since the breach.  In situations such as these it is always best to have a lawyer with you for the interview.