Q&A The 499 People Rule

  • Date: 12 May 2016
  • Author/Solicitor: Graeme Cushion
  • Source: Reproduced from the Publican's Morning Advertiser

Q:  I am planning a small summer music event on the village green at the front of my pub for about 800 people.  Can I use two Temporary Event Notices to avoid the “499 people” rule?

A:  This is a legal grey area.  Some Licensing Authorities frown upon the practice of “dividing up” open land into discrete parcels of 499 people, to comply with the limit on TENs.  The practice has not yet been tested in the High Court. 

You do not mention what licensable activities you propose, but I assume they include the sale of alcohol on the village green (as opposed to from the pub) together with provision of regulated entertainment.  So far as alcohol is concerned there is no issue as long as you include off as well as on-sales.  As to entertainment you cannot benefit from the various relaxations in the law, as these are limited to 500 people, so you will need authorisation of some kind. 

If you have not already done so, contact the Licensing Authority and enquire whether there is a Safety Advisory Group (“SAG”) made up of the main authorities interested in ensuring you run a safe event.  In those discussions you will hopefully be able to clarify whether the authorisations you propose, or a full (albeit temporary) premises licence is most appropriate.  Lastly, if you are planning for this summer I would make contact as soon as possible.