There are a range of businesses in the UK which require a licence. These are generally issued, administered, and policed by local authorities. Licensing authorities must carry out their duties in accordance with licensing objectives which aim to ensure a fair balance between differing interests and the wellbeing of communities in relation to licensable activities. The objectives of most business licenses are:
Different licences will have different conditions and duties attached. Your local authority will be able to tell you if your business requires a licence and how to get one if it does. Activities for which licences are required include: Dangerous wild animals, Dog breeding, Hairdressers, Massage parlours, Pet shops, Poisons, Riding schools, Sex shops, Street trading, etc. The most frequent licenses required by businesses relate to the sale of alcohol and gambling.
A premises licence must be obtained from your local authority if your business serves alcohol or late night refreshments or if it puts on public entertainment events involving singing, dancing or a display of indoor sport. All premises licences are granted subject to conditions such as the hours during which alcohol can be served or entertainment provided. Anyone who holds a premises licence must keep it (or a certified copy) at the premises and prominently display a summary of it. Such venues which would need this kind of licence include:
To make an application for a premises licence you must:
Where a premises licence has been issued but "an interested party" or "responsible authority" feels the conditions of the licence are not being met, they may ask the council to call that licence in for a review. If the request for a review is not rejected, the licensing authority must hold a hearing. It can then modify the conditions of the licence or suspend or revoke it altogether.
If your business serves alcohol – e.g. in a bar, off-licence, restaurant or hotel – you must appoint a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) who must hold a separate personal licence to supply or authorise the sale of alcohol. To make an application for a personal licence you must: be over 18 years old; not have any relevant criminal convictions; and pass a course for an approved licensing qualification.
These certificates authorise qualifying clubs to use club premises for qualifying club activities which include:
Alcohol must not be supplied to under 18s, or anyone buying it on their behalf. Apart from some exceptions which permits 16-17 year olds to drink some types of alcohol with table meals, under 18s must not be allowed to drink alcohol on licensed premises. Under 16s are not allowed on premises used mainly for the sale or supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises unless they are accompanied by someone over 18. Disorderly conduct must not be allowed on licensed premises and it is an offence to serve alcohol to someone who is drunk. Anyone who works on licensed premises and allows smuggled goods to be kept there commits an offence.
It is unlawful to gamble in Great Britain unless specifically permitted by statute. Gambling is regulated by the Gambling Commission which also conducts the licensing regime for gambling, along with licensing authorities.
There are three types of licence which your business might need: operating, personal and premises. The Commission issues operating licences and personal licences, while premises licences are issued by local authorities.
Unlike for most licences, public nuisance and public safety are not included in the licensing objectives which underpin the functions that the Commission and licensing authorities perform. The objectives are to:
Some gambling and gaming activities – such as the provision of bingo in premises with an on-premises alcohol licence – fall under the category of "exempt entertainment" and don’t require you to obtain a license.
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