connect

Connecting North West business to relevant training, insight, conversation and each other

Is your authorisation an appropriate one? - Premises Licences vs Club Premises Certificates

Napthens - July 15th 2016

We have come across recent examples of member’s clubs that have mistakenly believed that Premises Licences and Club Premises Certificates both serve the same purpose and are largely interchangeable.  As a result, the members clubs in question have believed that they are permitted to hire out their venues to non-members for private functions which involve licensable activities or to open up for the benefit of the public in general.  This is absolutely not the case.

Whilst both Club Premises Certificates and Premises Licences are governed by the Licensing Act 2003, there are several important differences that operators need to be aware of, and each permission has advantages and disadvantages.  We will outline some of the key differences here, although it should be noted that this is a complex area of law, and that this article is only intended to provide a summarised overview of the important points.

A Premises Licence can be granted to any premises which authorises the premises to be used for one or more licensable activities.  A Club Premises Certificate is a certificate granted in respect of a premises occupied by and habitually used for the purposes of a club, and that club must satisfy a number of conditions.

A Premises Licence can authorise:

  • the sale by retail of alcohol by retail
  • the supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to, or to the order of, a member of the club
  • the provision of regulated entertainment; and/or
  • the provision of late night refreshment

A Club Premises Certificate can authorise:

  • the supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to, or to the order of, a member of the club
  • the sale by retail of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to a guest of a member of the club for consumption on the premises where the sale takes place; and/or
  • the provision of regulated entertainment where that provision is by or on behalf of a club for members of the club or members of the club and their guests.

A Club Premises Certificate alone does not authorise sales of alcohol by retail or the provision of regulated entertainment to the general public, and in most circumstances, this will prevent the hire of a club premises to non-members for private functions that involve the carrying on of licensable activities.

In order to be a qualifying club in relation to the supply of alcohol, a club must satisfy a number of conditions, including the following:

  • A person may not be admitted to membership or as a candidate for membership to any membership privileges, without an interval of at least two days between their nomination or application for membership and their admission
  • A person becoming a member without prior nomination or application may not be admitted to the privileges of membership without an interval of at least two days between their becoming a member and their admission
  • The club must be established and conducted in good faith
  • The club must have at least 25 members
  • Alcohol is not supplied to members on the premises other than by or on behalf of the club
  • The purchase of alcohol for the club and the supply of alcohol by the club, are managed by a committee who are members of the club, are 18 years old or above, and are elected by members of the club
  • No person receives any commission, percentage, or similar payment at the club's expense on or concerning purchase of alcohol by the club
  • No person derives a financial benefit from the supply of alcohol by or on behalf of the Club to guests or members, except where the benefit accrues to the club as a whole, or where the benefit derived indirectly by a person from the supply producing or contributing to a general gain from the carrying on of the club

If a club is not satisfying the conditions of being a qualifying club the authority must give notice to the club withdrawing the certificate.  Where the only reason the club is not satisfying the qualifying club conditions is that they do not have 25 or more members then the certificate will be withdrawn three months after the initial notice. If at the end of that three month period, the club has 25 or more members then the certificate will not be withdrawn.

However, in return for meeting the qualifying conditions and not being permitted to sell alcohol to the general public, a Club Premises Certificate does have a number of advantages over a Premises Licence.  Those advantages include:

  • No personal licence holder is required to authorise sales of alcohol
  • No Designated Premises Supervisor is required to be nominated
  • Authorities (such as the Police) have more limited powers of entry because the premises are considered private and not open to the public
  • The premises are not subject to many powers of closure (such as closure on the order of the Magistrates’ Court and applied to all licensed premises in an area where disorder is happening or expected to happen)
  • Premises which are covered by Club Premises Certificates can benefit from higher stakes on gaming machines

Which permission is the most appropriate for a particular venue will depend on the individual circumstances of that venue, but it is imperative that operators understand the limits of their authorisation because the consequences are potentially serious.  As an example, a premises covered by a Club Premises Certificate who hired out their venue to a non-member for a function involving regulated entertainment and the sale of alcohol would be guilty of an offence under the Licensing Act 2003 which is punishable by an unlimited fine and / or up to six months in prison.

At Napthens we are one of the few law firms in the country to have a dedicated department of Licensing specialists.  If you would like additional advice or to discuss your circumstances, then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Licensing team.