A few weeks ago we published an article called “am I committing a licensing offence without realising it?” Just this week we had a prime example of someone unwittingly committing such an offence.
We were contacted by a client who, following an inspection at his site, had been informed by his local Licensing Officer that he needed to submit a variation because the plans attached to his Premises Licence were out of date following refurbishment at the site which had involved changes to the structural layout of his premises. in this case he had checked with the planning department at the local authority but failed to consider the impact of the changes on the plans which form part of the Premises Licence.
Thankfully the Licensing Officer chose a sensible route of giving advice rather than carrying out enforcement and overlooked the fact that the plans were not accurate on the agreement that a variation was promptly submitted to rectify the position. (We were able to achieve this within a few days by sending one of our architects along and amending the existing plans for the variation application.)
However, be aware that the Licensing Officer could have insisted that the Licensee ceased trading until the plans are updated and because a licence that does not have accurate plans is trading otherwise than in accordance with a relevant authority, an offence under section 136 of the Licensing Act 2003 could be created which is punishable by an unlimited fine and / or up to six months in prison!
So, the moral of the story is don’t do a refit without considering the impact on your licence. Our licensing consultants are happy to advise and help you to avoid potentially losing trade or facing prosecution!