Introduction to the Licensing Act 2003


What is the Licensing Act 2003?

The Licensing Act 2003 regulates the sale and supply of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment and the sale & supply of late night refreshment. Responsibility for the administration and enforcement of licensing the above activities is that of the Licensing Authority:

  • for Southwick, Shoreham and Lancing this is Adur District Council
  • for the borough of Worthing this is Worthing Borough Council

Note: whilst the two councils retain their independent status as licensing authorities the officers of Adur & Worthing Councils' Licensing Unit administers for both.

See also:

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Who is affected by the act?

The Licensing Act affects anyone who is concerned with:

  • pubs and nightclubs
  • indoor sporting events
  • off-licences
  • restaurants that serve alcohol
  • businesses offering hot food between 11pm and 5am
  • businesses that provide regulated entertainment
  • hotels, guest houses and other places that sell alcohol
  • private member’s clubs and social clubs
  • theatres and amateur dramatic groups
  • cinemas
  • community and youth clubs
  • organisers of occasional entertainment
  • mobile caterers and 'outside' caterers providing alcohol

Under the act there are a number of different types of licences and permissions required to operate and a number of requirements that have to be addressed by anyone that seeks to provide any of the above facilities. These include:

  • Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate: required at venues where any of the above activities are going to take place on a regular basis, see: Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate
  • Personal Licence: needed by anyone who wants to allow the sale of alcohol as part of his or her business, see: Personal Licence
  • Temporary Event Notices: required for occasional or one off events, see: Temporary Event Notices

The act makes it the overriding responsibility of licensees, the council and other agencies to promote the four licensing objectives:

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance
  • the protection of children from harm

As Licensing Authorities Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council are each required by the Licensing Act to draw up their own Statement of Licensing Policy.

These policy documents details how each authority will consider and deal with licensing applications made in their area. These statements of policy are vital not only as a guide to applicants, the public and councillors but as the basis by which all decisions made by the authorities are defended in a court of law.

These policies are constantly reviewed but have to be formally reviewed at least every five years.

A number of licensable activities are exempt from the requirement to obtain a licence in certain circumstances:

Licensing Act 2003 ‐ exemptions

Activities hosted by local authorities, hospitals, nurseries and schools (except Higher Education establishments): where the activities take place on the premises of that organisation are exempt from plays, performance of dance, indoor sport, live music, recorded music and boxing/wrestling activities between 8am and 11pm with no audience limitations.

Activities held on local authority, hospital, nursery and school premises (except Higher Education establishments): by another organisation/person(s) with their permission are exempt from plays, performance of dance, indoor sport, live music, recorded music and boxing/wrestling activities between 8am and 11pm for audiences up to 500.

Community premises (for example: churches, village halls, community centres, etc.): are exempt from regulation for live and recorded music between 8am and 11pm for audiences up to 500.

Circuses: are exempt from regulation for live and recorded music, plays, dance and indoor sport (not boxing/wrestling or film) between 8am and 11pm with no audience limitations.

Live Music Act 2012 - exemptions from the Licensing Act 2003

The Live Music Act came into force on the 1st October 2012 and made a number of changes to the Licensing Act 2003:

Live music in licensed venues: Live music is no longer considered to be regulated entertainment in venues licensed for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises in the following situations:

  • when it is unamplified and takes place between 8am and 11pm
    and
  • when it is amplified and takes place in the presence of an audience of 200 persons or less and is provided between 8am and 11pm

The premises must be open for the sale of alcohol during the time that the live music is provided for the exemption(s) to take effect. Any condition attached to the Premises Licence relating to live music will cease to have effect in respect of the live music when offered between 8am and 11pm, unless such conditions have been reinstated by the Licensing Authority as part of a Review Hearing.

Live music in venues which are not licensed: Unamplified, live music has been deregulated between 8am and 11pm in all non‐licensed venues. However, unamplified, live music after 11pm and amplified live music in non‐licensed venues will still require formal authorisation from the Licensing Authority by way of a Premises Licence, Club Premises Certificate or Temporary Event Notice.

Provision of facilities for making music and dancing: The provision of facilities for making music, the provision of facilities for dancing and the provision of facilities for anything similar to either music or dancing are no longer licensable activities under the Licensing Act 2003.

Morris dancing and other similar forms of dance: Morris‐dancing and any other similar forms of dance, such as maypole dancing, are exempt under the Licensing Act 2003. However, historically only unamplified, live music that accompanied the dance was exempt. The exemption has now been extended to include amplified, live music and recorded music when used to accompany Morris dancing or anything similar.

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Page last updated: 21 May 2024

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