Guidance for a Premises Licence application

Last updated on: 08-Dec-2021

2. Licensable Activities

Licensable acts under Licencing Act 2003

  • Sale by retail of alcohol
  • Supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club, or to the order of a member of a club.
  • Provision of late night refreshment (between 23:00 and 05:00)
  • Provision of regulated entertainment

What is regulated entertainment?

  • A performance of a play
  • An exhibition of a film
  • An indoors sporting event
  • A boxing or wrestling entertainment
  • A contest, exhibition or display which combines boxing or wrestling with one or more martial arts (“combined fighting sports”)
  • A performance of live music
  • Any playing of recorded music
  • A performance of dance
  • Entertainment of a similar description to a performance of live music, any playing of recorded music or a performance of dance

‘Regulated Entertainment’ under the LA03 has been amended by the Live Music Act 2012, The Licensing Act 2003 (descriptions of Entertainment) (Amendment Order 2013) and The Deregulation Act 2015.

Key terms used in Live Music Act 2012

Under the ‘live music’ provisions, ‘music’ includes vocal or instrumental music or any combination of the two. ‘Live music’ is a performance of live music in the presence of an audience which it is intended to entertain.

While a performance of live music can include the playing of some recorded music, ‘live’ music requires that the performance does not consist entirely of the playing of recorded music without any additional (substantial and continual) creative contribution being made.  So, for example, a drum machine or backing track being used to accompany a vocalist or a band would be part of the performance of amplified live music.

The performance of a DJ who is merely playing tracks would not be classified as live music, but it might if he or she was performing a set which largely consisted of mixing recorded music to create new sounds. There will inevitably be a degree of judgement regarding whether a performance is live music or not and organisers should check with their licensing authority if in any doubt. In the event of a dispute about whether a performance is live music or not, it will ultimately be for the courts to decide in the individual circumstances of any case.

Where no licence is required

As a result of these amendments to the LA03, no licence is required for the following activities during the hours of 08:00hrs and 23:00hrs on any day:

  • A performance of a play in the presence of any audience of no more than 500 people;
  • An indoor sporting event in the presence of any audience of no more than 1000 people;
  • Most performances of dance in the presence of any audience of no more than 500 people;
  • A not-for-profit film exhibition in the presence of any audience of no more than 500 people
  • A Boxing, Greco-roman or freestyle wrestling in the presence of any audience of no more than 1000 people.
  • Live music, where music comprises:
    • A performance of unamplified music
    • A performance of live amplified music in a workplace with an audience of no more than 500 people;
    • A performance of live amplified music on licensed premises with an audience of no more than 500 people,
    • A performance of live amplified music in a church, village or community hall with an audience of no more than 500 people as long as the organiser obtains the permission of person responsible for the premises.
    • A performance of live amplified music at the non-residential premises of a local authority, a school or a hospital with an audience of no more than 500, as long as the organiser obtains the permission from the relevant premises.
  • Recorded music, where music comprises:
    • Playing of Recorded music on licensed premises with an audience of no more than 500;
    • Playing of recorded music in a church, village or community hall with an audience of not more than 500 people as long as the organiser obtains the permission of person responsible for the premises.
    • Playing of recorded music at the non-residential premises of a local authority, a school or a hospital with an audience of no more than 500, as long as the organiser obtains the permission from the relevant premises.
  • Any entertainment carried out by a local authority, hospital or school, on their own premises with no limit on audience size.

Morris Dancing Exemption

The Act widens the licensing exemption for live music integral to a performance of Morris dancing or dancing of a similar type, so that the exemption applies to live or recorded music instead of unamplified live music.

Other circumstances in which entertainment activities are not licensable

The following activities are examples of entertainment which are not licensable:

  • Education – teaching students to perform music or to dance;
  • Activities which involve participation of acts of worship in a religious context
  • Activities that take place in places of public religious worship;
  • The demonstration of a product – for example, a guitar – in a music shop
  • The rehearsal of a play or performance of music for a private audience where no charge is made with a view to making profit (including raising money for charity);
  • Games played in pubs, youth clubs etc. (e.g. pool, darts, table tennis, billiards)
  • Stand-up comedy
  • The provision of entertainment facilities (such as dance floors, which were previously licensable under the 2003 Act before its amendment by the 2012 Act).

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