Next week's royal wedding offers an unrivalled oportunity to attract customers and generate business. Legal expert Matthew Phipps explains exactly what additional licensing and special event provision is available
The long-awaited marriage of HRH Prince William to Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011 will be the biggest royal wedding since that of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and it offers licensees an almost unrivalled opportunity to attract customers and generate more business.
To capitalise on this special occasion licensees will want to consider keeping their premises open for longer, as is now permitted.
Under Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003, provision is made for the Government to mark an occasion "of exceptional international, national or local significance" by making a Licensing Order that may relax licensing restrictions at certain times. On 30 March 2011, to take account of the Royal Wedding, the House of Lords confirmed the proposal to extend licensing hours.
Under the Royal Wedding Extension Order all licensed premises where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises may stay open from 11pm on Friday 29 April 2011 until 1am on Saturday 30 April. Similarly all licensed premises may stay open on Saturday 30 April until 1am on Sunday 1 May. For many premises this may be a considerable increase in opening hours.
The extension permits not only the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises, but it also permits regulated entertainment and late-night refreshment, namely the sale of hot food and hot drinks. However, the permission only extends to premises that already have a premises licence which permits the sale of alcohol for consumption on that premises.
It is also worth noting that the Royal Wedding Extension Order is only an extension to existing permissions. If you do not already have in place a licence permitting live music, the order does not provide one. Those premises that do not currently play live music but want to use the wedding as an opportunity to do so, will need a Temporary Event Notice (TEN).
Do bear in mind that many residents and some local police officers may not be familiar with the Royal Wedding Extension Order as it was only confirmed as law in the last two weeks. As such, providing residents and the police with advance notice of your intentions will probably go some way to avoiding difficult conversations, particularly at a busy time, with those who think you are doing something unlawful.
â- Consider getting in extra staff and extra supplies to cater for the increased business.
â- Consider the additional risks of later night and/or lengthier consumption of alcohol.
For those well-organised licensees that had already applied for a TEN prior to the Royal Wedding Extension Order being granted, you will unfortunately not be able to recoup the cost of the application as that fee was to cover the TEN administration process.
While the Royal Wedding offers a superb opportunity for businesses to increase revenue, it has its risks. With the extended hours licensees could find that if customers become unruly and intoxicated then the authorities may wish to review their premises license. Although the Licensing Act 2003 allows for a relaxation of licensing restrictions at certain times, there will be no relaxation of the rules related to intoxicated customers and unreasonable disturbance of local residents. Therefore, licensees will need to consider appropriate levels of staffing and whether additional security staff would be advisable.
There is currently much debate over whether licensing hours should be extended for the London 2012 Olympics and the success or failure of the extension for the Royal Wedding could add to the arguments for either side.
In the event of any questions or concerns licensees should contact their Local Authority licensing office.