Q: Do I need a licence for a cash bar at my Birthday Party?

Cash Bars at Birthday Parties & Weddings etc.

If you want to have a cash bar at your party or wedding reception, and the event is not held at licensed premises, you will need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice (“TEN”), or use the services of one of the many commercial bar services who will organise the bar for you. A Google search for “Bar Service” or “Cash Bar Services” will give you a wide range to choose from.

Application for a TEN

If you wish to organise the cash bar yourself, your application for a TEN should be relatively straightforward, and is unlikely to require the services of a licensing lawyer. There is a helpful Gov UK Fact Sheet that sets out the procedure in full. In summary –

The application is made to the local council (as licensing authority). You must apply at least 10 clear working days before your event. You will have to pay a fee of £21. You must send a copy of the TEN to the police at least 10 working days before the event. Applications may be made on line, in which case the council will contact the police for you.

There are some restrictions on obtaining a TEN: your event must:

  • have fewer than 500 people at all times – including staff running the event
  • last no more than 168 hours (7 days)
  • you must be at least 18 to apply for a Ten

Approval by the Licensing Authority

The licensing authority may only refuse to approve your application for a TEN, if the police or Environmental Health object to it. They can only object if they think your event could:

  • lead to crime and disorder
  • cause a public nuisance
  • be a threat to public safety
  • put children at risk of harm

Objections must be made to the licensing authority within 3 working days of receiving notice of the application.

Q: My premises licence is being reviewed by the police. Should I get advice from a specialist licensing lawyer?

You are strongly advised to go to a specialist licensing lawyer.

There can be several different reasons for the police to review a premises licence. Some reasons are more worrying than others. You should seek advice urgently if there has been a drugs-related death on your premises; if there have been a number of violent incidents; or if there have been persistent under age sales.

No review should be taken lightly. The licensing authority has the power to revoke or suspend your premises licence, or to add conditions (such as requiring an earlier closing time).

I cannot think of circumstances in which the advice of a specialist licensing lawyer need not be sought.

Q: What is the difference between an “ordinary review” and a “summary review”?

Ordinary Review

Any person may apply for the review of a premises licence, on any ground that is relevant to the licensing objectives. For example, a residents' association may apply for the review of a licence on the ground that residents are suffering noise-nuisance or anti social behaviour from drunken customers.

Gerald successfully appeared for residents bringing a review of the Riverside Pub in St. George Wharf, as a result of which the licensing authority attached conditions limiting the hours of operation and also limiting the capacities (and requiring strict supervision) of the external drinking areas.

Summary review

A summary review is a very much more serious matter. Application for summary reviews may only be made by the police, on the ground that the premises are associated with serious crime an/or disorder. A single incident of serious crime can amount to an “association”.

Where the police have brought a summary review of licensed premises, the licensing authority can impose 'interim steps' to take effect immediately pending a hearing of the review. These may be suspending the operation of the licence, disallowing alcohol to be sold, removal of the DPS, or modifying the conditions (e.g.  terminal hour) of the licence.

The Home Office have published guidance relating to Summary Reviews. It can be found at Section 12, page 93 of the following link: Home Office Guidance (April 2017)

If the police bring a summary review of your premises licence, or even an “ordinary review”, you are strongly advised to instruct an experienced licensing lawyer.

Q: How can I get longer hours for my night club?

You will have to make a variation application. The usual issues are –

  • Does the licensing authority have a policy concerning hours?
  • Is your proposal to operate later than the terminal hours in the policy?
  • Is there a cumulative impact policy applicable to the area?
  • Are there nearby residents who might be disturbed?
  • Does the area have known problems of nuisance or crime and disorder?

Applications to extend the licensing hours of a premises licence almost invariably give rise to representations (unless they fall within core hours given in the policy – but even then, objections are not unknown).

The careful preparation of extended hours applications is of paramount importance. You are advised to take advantage of a free initial consultation with an specialist licensing lawyer.

Q: Can I have a free initial consultation?

Yes.  Many licensing issues can be resolved quickly and inexpensively. Sometimes a wholly unnecessary licensing hearing can be avoided. Gerald offers a no-fee initial hearing to discuss a client's case, and give broad advice as to the best dierection to go in.

Prompt action, whenever an issue arises, can prevent a host of further problems. Gerald is very happy to see a client and give advice on rapid solutions – whether the issue is a summary review of the licence, an application or an objection.

For more information see Direct Access

Q: Is a Barrister under the Direct Access scheme more expensive than a solicitor?

The answer is “No”.  Of course fees can vary from lawyer to lawyer: but the fees charged by a barrister are usually equivalent to those charged by a solicitor of equal standing – and they can even be less!

Over-high legal costs are often the result of unecessarily instructing a solicitor and a barrister on a matter that in reality only requires one lawyer. Many licensing matters, including representation at hearings, only need the services of one licensing lawyer.

For more information see Direct Access

Q: What is the difference between a licensing consultant and a licensing solicitor?

A licensing solicitor is a qualified lawyer.

Usually licensing consultants are not qualified lawyers, but may nonetheless have considerable work-experience of licensing and the relevant law. Licensing consultants may be ex-police officers – often having had responsibility for licensing in our towns and cities, such as 'force licensing inspector'. Licensing consultants may also be retired local authority officers or other employees, with specialist knowledge of licensing issues acquired over many years.

Many of the more straightforward licensing issues are effectively and economically dealt with by licensing consultants, avoiding the unnecessary cost of instructing a solicitor or barrister. Licensing consultants frequently appear and represent applicants at hearings before local authority licensing sub committees.

For more information about licensing consultants go to http://www.licenceconsultants.com

Q: Am I obliged to stay with a barrister after the free initial consultation?

No.  You are entitlted to pick the lawyer of your choice at any stage. The free initial consultation is exactly what it says it is: there is no obligation to continue instructing Gerald if you then decide to go with another barrister.

Q: What types of licences do you advise on?

Gerald's main practice areas are:

Alcohol licensing: pubs, clubs, bars, late night venues. Off licences, Supermarkets. Applications for a premises licence, personal licence, variation of premises licence, licence reviews and appeals.

Betting and Gambling : Betting shops, casinos, lotteries, gaming centres, gaming machines. As with alcohol and entertainment the gambling regime has premises licences and personal licences. In addition, broadly speaking,  anyone providing facilities for gambling must be the holder of  an operating licence (from the Gambling Commission).

Taxi Licensing : Taxis. Black Cabs, Private Hire, Minicabs. This licensing regime has operator's licences, driver's licences and vehicle licences.

Sex Establishments: Lap dancing clubs, sex cinemas, sex shops. The licensing of sex establishments has a bespoke regime with its own rules for applications, objections, grounds for refusal and appeals.

The Home Office has published helpful guidance on this controversial area of licensing. For further reading, see the House of Commons Briefing Paper: 'Lap dancing clubs: licensing issues'.

Sex establishments (such as lap dancing clubs) that wish to sell alcoholic drinks will also need a premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.

Additional Licence Types

In addition to the above four main types of licence, Gerald has advised and appeared in cases involving Theatre Licences, Firearms Certificates/Licences, and licences for the removal of bat-roosts.

Q: Does Gerald only work for applicants for licences?

No – Gerald is regularly instructed by applicants, objectors, licensing authorities, and the police.

As well as licensing applications, his work includes adivising and appearing in reviews, transfers, and prosecuting and defending licensing offences.

Q: Does Gerald accept work from residents' associations?

In the past year Gerald has acted for residents and residents associations in London, York and Newcastle, in objecting to new applications likley to cause nuisance and anti social behavious, and also sucessfully bringing a review of two large London pubs.

Q: What parts of the UK do you work in?

Licensing hearings take Gerald all over the UK. He has made applications for licences in towns and cities from Bodmin to Newcastle.  He has even made applications for Casino licences in Scotland!

Q: Can you help with filling in application forms?

Yes.  A direct access barrister can prepare application forms for you, as well as (if it becomes necessary) notices of appeal.

For more information about the preparation of documents see Objections by Residents

Q: Do I need a licence to sell alcohol at my Church Fete?

Broadly speaking, either a 'temporary event notice' (TEN) or a premises licence will be required. The Cabinet Office has published (January 2014) a helpful guide to the do's and don't's of organising church fetes and other voluntary events: “Organising a Voluntary Event: a 'Can do' guide

Q: how important is the preparation of court bundles? in a Direct Access case, could I save money by preparing the bundles myself?

The preparation of court bundles is of paramount importance.  There is no absolute rule that a lawyer needs to prepare them – but if you do so yourself, please read the article: Preparation of Bundles.