Click on questions below to show answers.
"Q: The hotel I work for has recently started to cater for weddings. There’s a fairly large unlicensed area in the grounds which can be directly accessed from the function suite. In fact, that’s the only means of access. We’ve been allowing the guests to take their drinks outside on the basis that the premises licence has an off-sales facility. In other words, the alcohol is purchased at the bar for off consumption. There’s a local byelaw in place prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in public places anywhere within the council’s area. Management has taken the view that our garden area isn’t “public” because it’s privately owned and we have total control over admittance, but the local licensing board sees it differently. Are they right to say that we’re breaking the law?”
”Q: I was having drinks with my friends in my local pub. The closing time is 12am and they called last orders at 11.45pm. We ordered a pint and a vodka each. The barman then started hassling us to hurry up and drink our drinks or he was taking them away. Do we have the right to stay and consume our drink until 12.15am, ie. 15 minutes after closing time, or do we have 15 minutes from when last orders were called? “
”Q: My son and I have revamped a pub/restaurant and before opening to the public plan to have a night for family and friends to celebrate with us. After giving them food and drinks the bar will then be opened. We have a licence for children till 8pm but would that also apply to my grandchildren for this closed door event?”
”Q: My pub is due to be sold on at the end of November and the land used for a residential development, but I want to keep trading up until the last minute. The annual premises licence fee is due to be paid on October 1, and as the licence will not be transferred my local council says that I would not get a refund for the unused ten months of my fee. Is this right? Surely I cannot be charged for a whole year?”
”Q: I’m a bartender who has just started a new job at a local pub where the owners refuse to hire door staff, despite the pub attracting some questionable clientele. The bar staff seem to be expected to take care of any problems that occur. What should I do if I ask a problematic customer to leave the premises and they refuse? Am I allowed to physically remove them? The owners have said they don’t want to involve the police.”
”Q: I’ve just submitted an application for a personal licence and the licensing board’s office has told me that, because of “statutory policy” it could be up to nine months before it’s granted. It seems a long time for a straightforward application – I have no convictions so no hearing’s needed – and I’d like to know if it’s correct?”
”Q: My home backs onto very popular licensed premises. On occasions they hold private parties in their private room. The only access to this area is at the back of the building which is visible from my home. Noise travels in this area. They have had late parties till 5am. I called once to complain and was told it was an unauthorised member of staff allowing the drinks to be served and they offered me a free meal. It happened again and I observed one of the owners in attendance. Can an owner hold a private party and serve drinks after the end of licensed hours? It is also a restaurant so they might have supplied food, but I know the chefs usually leave the premises around midnight.“
”Q: There have been several incidents in my pub over the past few months and at the end of April the police applied to the licensing board for a review of my premises licence. The application says there has been “a failure to exercise proper managerial control” leading to a breach of the licensing objectives. With the ‘fit and proper person’ test reinstated, does this have consequences for my situation?“
"Q: Apologies if I have ever missed this query in your SLTN column. Can you clarify the position of guests taking alcohol into hotel bedrooms for personal consumption where the premises is fully licensed to sell alcohol but unaware of such an occurrence taking place. Unless I am mistaken it appears the law allows the loss of sales to the establishment, allows consumption of an unknown substance at an uncontrolled level – yet holds the licence holder, who is more than likely to be unaware of the event as bottles taken to the rooms are never declared, responsible and potentially liable. I understand we can put notices in bedrooms advising guests to drink sensibly, etc. However this would appear to be fairly futile and leaves the licence holder exposed to risk.”
”Q: I used to manage a club in England and when the clocks moved forward in the spring we lost an hour’s trading unless we applied for a temporary event notice (equivalent to an extension of the licensed hours). I’ve just started work as the premises manager at a late night venue north of the border. We’re licensed at the weekends until 3am. What’s the position under Scottish licensing law?”
”Q: I own a pub in which I would like to host my daughter’s 18th birthday party. The pub will be closed on the night in question and will not sell anything at all. We intend to provide a buffet meal along with beer and wine, none of which will be subject to any form of charge. Is this allowed or is there a law or regulation I would be breaking?”
”Q: I work for a community arts theatre in Scotland. We have a bar and restaurant which hosts functions on a regular basis. My question is, what can I do if I discover that someone attending a function has brought their own supply of alcoholic drinks onto our on-licensed premises? This has happened on a number of occasions, and it’s starting to become a problem with obvious revenue loss implications.”
*Jack Cummins is unable to enter into personal correspondence on readers’ questions. The advice offered in SLTN is published for information only. No responsibility for loss occasioned by persons acting or refraining from action as a result of material contained on this page or elsewhere in SLTN can be accepted by the author or publisher.