England and Wales move to de-regulate some licensing – and others look to clamp down on lap dancing

July 2013

Live events sector


The Licensing Act 2003 (Description of Entertainment)(Amendment) Order came into force of the 27rth June, effectively removing (a) theatre and dance events of up to 500 people and (b) indoors sports events for up to 1,000 people held between 08.00 and 23.00 from licensing law and reducing the list of regulated entertainment ion England and Wales. Further, mixed martial arts will become licensable as boxing or wrestling entertainment as opposed to being an indoor sport.  The Order does not reference proposed changes to live music or recorded music and a further consultation is still expected in respect of proposals to partially deregulate community film exhibitions


And the Morning Advertiser reports that a ground-breaking case that is believed to cost Westminster City Council £2m could limit the scope of fees which licensing authorities will be able to charge under the Licensing Act 2003. Since 2009 local authorities have been prevented from charging anything other than the real cost of licences. In the case, a group of sex shops owners brought the action – one had been charged £29,102 for its annual licence from Westminster. More at http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/General-News/Westminster-council-legal-judgment-could-limit-scope-of-licensing-fees

In Malta, the Government is re-focussing on regulating adult entertainment after a landmark court ruling, in which Magistrate Ian Farrugia concluded that being topless inside a gentlemen’s club does not constitute an immoral act. “At some stage the government may consider the regulation of these types of establishments in a different manner to other holders of wines and spirits licences but this is a complex matter which may also raise issues ranging from employment law to human trafficking which would have to be taken into proper consideration” a spokesperson for the Justice and Home Affairs Ministry told MaltaToday.  Regulation in Canada followed another landmark 1994 court ruling when Judge Hachborn ruled that lap dancing did not contravene laws on public decency. The Supreme Court confirmed the ruling in 1999. Iceland has banned the practice altogether. Kolbrun Halldorsdottir, the politician who proposed the ban, argued that “it is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold.” The law makes it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees. In the UK the 2003 Licensing Act effectively meant lap dance clubs and similar venues were licensed alongside other venues, but the law was changed in the Policing and Crime Act 2009 giving local authorities in England and Wales the power to regulate such venues as sex establishments under Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

In Scotland a dedicated licensing regime for venues such as lapdance clubs could be put in place under new Scottish Government proposals and a consultation on a licensing regime for sexual entertainment venues has been launched by the Scottish Government. The Proposals are aimed at giving local communities more input over the number and location of venues in Scottish cities. Plans to introduce a specific system of licensing as part of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 were rejected by Holyrood because they were introduced late in the Bill process, however the Government pledged to return to the issue.




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