The UK’s new Licensing Act causes chaos

September 2005

Live Event Industry

The UK’s live music scene is under threat as numerous pubs and clubs have failed to re-apply for licences to sell alcohol and provide entertainment according to a new report. Under the Licensing Act 2003, anyone wanting to keep selling alcohol and/or provide entertainment must complete the paperwork by 6 August 2005. The new 21 page application contains details of what entertainment the venue or pub wish to promote and applicants must send in details of their current licence along with plans of premises and other details. Applicants must also state how they will meet the four key licensing objectives: preventing crime and disorder; promoting public safety; preventing public nuisance; preventing harm to children. Research by drinks company Glenfiddich has found that half of all pub, bar and restaurant owners are yet to apply and the report claims that the number of gigs taking place in the UK every day could fall from an average of 4,500 gigs to 2,250, if the venues are forced to close due to a lack of licence. Even the Government’s own figures suggest that 30% of premises (some 60,000 licensees) will miss the deadline. The 6th August deadline has been set by the government as the final date for premises to convert their licence and apply for their flexible opening hours and entertainment licenses It requires everyone in the industry to renew their licence, whether they want to open later or not. Current licences will usually expire in November after which pubs, clubs and venues will be unlicensed if they have not applied. Each premise to be licensed must have a licence and the bar must be run by a person with a personal licence.

There was intense lobbying from both the music industry and the brewery trade against the Act which was largely ignored by Government. The brewery and licensed trade associations did initially support the scheme but backed away when the extent of the bureaucracy became apparent along with a dawning realisation that it would be publicans who would have to foot the sharply increased costs in licensing when this moved form Magistrates Courts to Local Authorities. The Government did set up the Live Music Forum under chair Feargal Sharkey who has championed the cause of live music against a background of increasing regulation and regulatory cost but many small clubs and pubs seem unsettled if not overwhelmed by the new regime. The live music industry also had to come to terms with new disability discrimination provisions and door supervisor regulations over the last year. At the 17th International Live Music Conference Feargal Sharkey chaired a panel explaining the effects of legislation on the live industry (Make Yourself At Home with the LMF) and Sarah Waddington (Simkins Partnership, UK) and Leon Raemakers (Mojo Concerts, NL) co-chaired a session (Legislation – Playing By The Rules) looking at the effect of legislation of the industry. See the ILMC Conference Reports at:

See The Times 3rd August 2005


See the article on regulation in the live music industry by Ben Challis: Regulated to Death: Safety Regulation in The Live Music Industry at:

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