Transitional period

 

All liquor licences, public entertainment licences, night café licences and other licences in force on 7th February 2005 must be transferred into the new system during a transitional period from 7th February to 6th August. After that, on 24th November 2005, the new premises licences will come into effect and all the old licences will cease to be valid. Any liquor licences which continue to be changed in the magistrates’ court between 7th February and 6th August, cannot benefit from the transitional provisions as they were not in force on 7th February and therefore must apply to the licensing authority as a new application.

Conversions

 

Those holding any licence on 7th February have the right during the transitional period to convert that licence into a new premises licence with exactly the same terms and conditions (but not any previous undertakings). These are referred to as ‘grandfather’ rights. The only people who can object to conversions are the police and then only on a matter relating to preventing crime. The only hurdle from the applicant’s point of view is to make sure that the application they submit is valid in terms of the paperwork being correct.

 

This is done using a two part form, (this can be downloaded from the DCMS web site http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/alcohol_and_entertainment/3189.aspx and it is worth looking at one so you can see the sort of information an applicant has to provide). Applicants complete part A for Conversions and part B if they wish to vary the licence in any way. Provided it is judged to be a valid application by the licensing authority then, if after 2 months from the date it has been submitted the local licensing authority has not made a decision, the law says it is deemed to have been granted. These provisions were made to reassure the leisure industry that no one would be worse off than under the old system. Such applications are called ‘conversions’. The application process is relatively simple.

 

  • Fill in Part A of the form and completing two notices. The first giving the consent of all the people who previously held the licence(s) if they are not the same as the person applying for the new premises licence. The second giving the consent of the person who will become the designated premises supervisor for those premises where alcohol is to be sold. That is, the person who will be in overall charge of the premises and under whose authority alcohol will be sold.
  • The applicant must either have or prepare detailed plans of the premises at 1:100 scale (unless they get in advance written consent from the council to use another scale). The can be costly and time consuming and may catch out less sophisticated applicants. These must be submitted with the application.
  • Work out and pay the appropriate fee based on the rateable value of the premises.
  • List all the conditions which attach to the existing licence(s) and enclose those licences or certified copies.
  • Send a copy to the chief officer of police for the area.

There is little that neighbours can do in relation to conversion applications but if the particular premises in question has been a problem in the past there may well have been a range of undertakings given by the licence holder to offset adverse impacts. Examples are: undertakings to keep windows closed after a certain hour, or to only sell drinks in plastic glasses for consumption outside the premises. All these types of undertakings, which helped to prevent crime and nuisance will be null and void as previous undertakings do not have to be disclosed or offered in relation to new premises licences. If you start to experience nuisance as a result of the removal of these undertakings all you can do is wait until the new licensing system is fully operational and then call for a review of the licence and seek to have conditions applied which replicate the intent of the undertakings.

 

However, if there are undertakings such as to maintain a CCTV system or to have door supervisors in post which legitimately relate to preventing crime and you are worried from that these sort of measures are going to stop, then you can try asking the local police licensing section if they will make a representation to the licensing authority that a condition is put on to the licence which embodies these crime prevention measures.

 

Variations

At the same time during the transitional period applicants can apply to vary their licences by completing part B of the same form. These are ‘Variation’ applications and they can only be decided on after the authority has first decided on the Conversion element in part A.

 

Here the law is reversed, so if the licensing authority does not make a decision within 2 months of making a valid variation application then that application is deemed to have been refused. However, the applicant is then able to appeal to the magistrates court against that deemed refusal.

 

Variation applications are more complicated to make than conversions for a number of reasons. In addition to all the information required for a Conversion under part A in completing part B they must:

 

  • Set out the activities that are to be conducted at the premises and the days and times each week they intend to conduct them and state what steps if any they intend to take, if any, to promote the 4 licensing objectives.
  • Send copies of the application to all of the responsible authorities. As well as the local police, these are the fire authority, the weights and measures department, the environmental health department, the planning department and the area child protection committee.
  • Advertise the application prominently on the premises within a day of submitting it to the licensing authority and the responsible authorities for a period of not less than 20 days using light blue paper of at least A4 size and using at least 16 point type.
  • Publish a notice in a local newspaper on at least one occasion not more than 10 working days starting the day after making the application.

The notice on the premises and in the local paper must give the name of the applicant, the address of the premises, the address of the local authority and its web site where the details of the application can be seen, the date by which any written representations must be made and finally stating that it is an offence to knowingly or recklessly to make a false statement in connection with the application and stating the maximum level of fine. (You have been warned!)

 

Licensing Act - 2003