Last Months Licensing News (August)
Containing items posted to our website over the past month or so – enjoy! August is often a quiet time in licensing but we have been very busy in a number of areas and all around the country. For one of the more interesting things that has kept us busy of late, please see our “And finally” item below.
On to the news:
The BII is alerting to advice issued by Drinkaware for pub and bar operators on how to ensure a safe and enjoyable Freshers’ Week. September will see thousands of students enjoying the ‘freedom’ of their first week at universities and colleges by visiting bars, pubs and clubs in their local area.
The Guidance can be found here: ‘Freshers Week Tips from Drinkaware’
Separately, Drinkaware has advice available under the campaign title – OK to ask. This is designed to end or seek to reduce sexual harassment on a night out, a subject which was the subject of a recent Radio 5 phone-in.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has just published its Report, ‘E-cigarettes’. The Report reviews the current evidence base on the harmfulness of e-cigarettes compared to conventional cigarettes and looks at the current policies on e-cigarettes, including in NHS mental health units and in prisons. The Committee concludes that e-cigarettes should not be treated in the same way as conventional cigarettes. The Report indicates that there is clear evidence that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than conventional cigarettes. The Committee is calling on the Government to consider risk-based regulation to allow more freedom to advertise e-cigarettes as the relatively less harmful option, and provide financial incentives, in the form of lower levels of taxation, for smokers to swap from cigarettes to less harmful alternatives such as e-cigarettes.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority has released figures which show that it had already received more than 200 incident reports about disruptive passengers from UK airlines in 2018. The CAA is calling on airlines and enforcement agencies to make better use of laws already in place and calls for more travellers to be prosecuted for violent and drunken behaviour while Airlines UK (the trade body for UK registered airlines) commenting on the statistics wants licensing laws at airports tightened up with the airside of terminals subject to the same licensing controls as landside.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has responded to the recent Lancet alcohol study found here. Published last month, the study indicated that no level of alcohol is good for health and has received many differing comments across the industry and in the national press.
The Regulating Our Future (ROF) Programme aims to modernise how food businesses in Wales, England and Northern Ireland are regulated, to ensure that ‘food is safe and what it says it is’. The Food Standards Agency has just announced a review of the Food Law Code of Practice (Code) for Wales to:
- change the process of food business registration;
- make changes to the application of the food hygiene intervention rating scheme to ensure interventions are appropriately targeted to maximise the impact on non-compliant food businesses;
- to recognise national inspection strategies; and
- obtain early views from stakeholders on other co-dependent aspects of the ROF programme still in development.
The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018 has now received Royal Assent following the approval of the Bill by the National Assembly for Wales in June. The Welsh Government has said there will be a consultation commenced in the autumn to assist Minsters in determining what the MUP should be. It was further stated the MUP would then be introduced in the “summer” of 2019.
The Scottish Government has now issued the Personal Licence Holder Communications Document providing significant clarification over Refresher training and personal licence renewal requirements for those personal licence holders whose licences expire September 2019 onwards. The Council fee has now also separately been confirmed as £50.
A new plan to develop food and drink tourism in Scotland has been launched which ‘will aim to deliver an additional £1 billion to Scotland’s economy by 2030’. The industry-led Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan, launched this week by the industry and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the Isle of Arran, sets out a range of actions seeking to maximise the potential of two of Scotland’s most successful sectors – tourism and food and drink.
It is being reported that Moray Licensing Board are to consult on new rules which could be brought in for pubs across Moray ‘to help curb antisocial behaviour and bring a boost to the local economy’. There are current restrictions in place ban customers from entering bars and clubs selling alcohol in the region after 12:30am. Draft proposals drawn up by Moray Council’s Licensing Board states that members decided that “the curfew is no longer an effective and proportionate means of promoting licensing objectives and such a condition should not automatically be attached to any premises licence.”
The Gambling Commission has just published their annual report for the period of 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. The report included statements from the Chairman, William Moyes, and recently appointed CEO Neil McArthur. In addition a number of statistics regarding the scale and health of the gaming industry are included.
The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), whose stated purpose is to provide independent advice to the Gambling Commission, and through it to the Government, on a national responsible gambling strategy, has recently published a new report entitled “Measuring gambling-related harms – A framework for action”. The report is the result of close collaboration between the Commission, Gamble Aware as funding body and RGSB.
Challenge 21 for the on-trade re-affirmed
As a practice we have always taken the view that Challenge 21 is the appropriate age verification standard for the on-trade, a view reinforced by the Section 182 Guidance.
This means that when confronted as we often are by a request to adopt Challenge 25, on behalf of clients we usually resist this. In many cases, the position is quickly conceded by the Responsible Authority; in a number of cases the point falls to be argued usually successfully before the appropriate Licensing Committee. On one rare occasion the Committee imposed Challenge 25 as the appropriate standard, although there appeared no cogent evidence to justify this.
This particular decision was taken to appeal and in a judgment just delivered the Magistrates’ Court sitting in Romford has overturned the decision of Havering Council and imposed Challenge 21 as the appropriate standard.
Although not a binding precedent elsewhere, we believe that this is an important reaffirmation of the principle, which as a practice we strongly believe in.