Minor Variations – Licensing Act 2003

In July 2009 a change was introduced to the Licensing Act 2003 which affected the process of ‘variation of a premises licence’. 

Previously any variation attracted the same formal application and notification processes no matter how insignificant they were.

The introduction of Minor Variations is a ‘common sense’ approach to dealing with those less significant alterations to a premises licence which have little or no effect on the terms of use or the impact of the premises.

In its simplest form this change means that if the proposed variation does not have any material impact on the licensing objectives it may be deemed to be a ‘minor variation’. In these cases you submit an application to the licensing authority who consult the relevant ‘responsible authorities’ as they feel is appropriate and consider any representations received within 15 working days.

You must still post a notice outside the premises for 10 days after the application is made for any ‘interested party’ to make a representation to the licensing authority. There can however be no hearing into the representation, but rather it will be considered by the authority who will determine the merits and either insist on an application for a full variation being submitted or grant the minor variation.

An example

If you wanted to knock through an interior wall in your premises in order to ease the flow of customers or for aesthetical reasons, this would require a variation as the plans submitted for your premises would no longer reflect the structure.

On the assumption that this did not increase your capacity (and thus affect conditions attached to your licence) or significantly alter the Fire Evacuation routes (and thus undermining the licensing objective of Public Safety), then it really has no impact on any of the licensing objectives.

Common sense says; why complete a full variation for something which has no impact on the licensing objectives and it is exactly this approach which has been taken with the introduction of ‘minor variations’.

This example should qualify for a minor variation, but it may be useful to seek the informal agreement of the licensing officer prior to submitting your application.

All our relevant training courses reflect these changes and for candidates who have already taken our National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (NCPLH) course, an update for their NCPLH handbook is available; please Contact Us for a copy. 

Source – Beyond The Blue

Date – 15th January 2010