Published: 26 February 2015
Q: I own a food-led pub operation in my local city centre. For the last few years I have been selling hot food until 11.30pm. However, last month, due to an incident at the pub, the local licensing officer came to visit. Having inspected my premises licence, the licensing officer told me that I will need to vary my Premises Licence in order to sell hot food after 11pm; otherwise I will be in breach of my licence and could be liable to pay a large fine. Is the officer correct and how long would it take to vary the licence?
A: In short, the licensing officer is quite right. Authorisation is required by the Licensing Act to serve hot food and drinks between the hours of 23:00 and 05:00. There are certain exemptions to this requirement, such as private members clubs, hotels, guests houses and premises who have a primary function providing facilities for overnight accommodation, however as a pub premises you would not fall under the exemptions and will need to make an application to your local licensing authority to vary your premises licence. Alternatively, you could stop serving hot food at 11pm in which case you will not need to vary your premises licence. If you do decide to vary your premises licence, the time frame for the grant of the application can vary. In general, the licensing authority has a maximum of two months in which to determine applications. Once your variation application has been issued, the 28 day consultation period will begin the day after the licensing authority receives the application. However, if after the consultation period no relevant representations have been received, the application is deemed granted and the varied premises licence must be issued as soon as possible. If relevant representations are made and they cannot be mediated away the application will be put before a licensing sub-committee to determine the application within 20 working days following the day after the consultation period has ended.
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