Licensing law & church activities – a brief guide

Author: David Osborne

Published on: 1 June 2018

The Licensing Act 2003 may affect some church events, regulating entertainment and the sale of alcohol. Fortunately, it makes exceptions for some occasional activities.

Licensable activities include:

  • The sale of alcohol
  • Public entertainment including plays, film shows, dances, and live or recorded music, but not when part of:
    a. Religious services
    b. Fetes
    c. Information or educational films
    d. Incidental music

Also, church and village halls do not usually require permission for:

  • Unamplified live music
  • Live or recorded music (if licensed to sell alcohol)
  • Play or dance performances The Act provides for four different types of permission, but the most relevant for churches include: –

Premises Licence

These mainly affect church halls used more than 15 times a year for the sale of alcohol, or plays, films, sporting events, music, and dancing.

One person will be required to hold a Personal Licence if alcohol is sold, and act as the “designated premises supervisor”.

Temporary Events Notice (TEN)

For up to 15 individual events a year, the organiser is required to notify the Council and Police using a prescribed form, or Temporary Events Notice.

Notice must be given at least ten working days before the event, but if you forget, a ‘Late TEN’ can be used five to nine working days beforehand.

The Licensing Authority, Police and Environmental Health can object to the Notice.

The licensing authority will check the application was made in time, while Police and Environmental Health checks consider the potential for crime and disorder, risk of harm to children, public nuisance and safety.

A hearing may result following an objection, to decide whether the licensable activities will be permitted, but with a ‘Late TEN’ there is insufficient time and the event will be prohibited.

Temporary Event Notice Limitations:

  • Less than 500 people can attend at any one time.
  • A person may only make 5 TEN applications a year, with no more than 2 Late TENs
  • Premises may only have 15 TENs a year.

Remember, the organiser is liable to prosecution if conditions are breached.

Practical examples

  • A free drink included in the entry ticket – TEN required
  • Voluntary contributions invited at a free event with free alcohol – No TEN
  • Free admission and a free drink – No TEN
  • Bring and buy sale selling alcohol – TEN required
  • Alcohol as raffle prizes – No TEN

If in doubt, ask the Licensing Team at your local council.

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