I was in a bar the other day surrounded by 4 x 4 pushchairs and yummy mummies when someone asked the manager in a rather loud voice what the law was concerning children in licensed premises. The response was rather garbled but went along the lines of, ‘the law changed when they banned smoking, I think that children normally have to be six or seven years old, but we have special permission’. The patron with the loud voice went away rather satisfied that they were in a ‘special’ establishment. Unfortunately the manager was talking absolute rubbish. Whilst the law has changed (relatively) recently it was through the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, not the Health Act 2007 which banned indoor smoking. Children of all ages are now allowed to enter licensed premises, provided that they are accompanied. Children over-16 are permitted to enter licensed establishments without having mummy or daddy dragging down their street cred. The only exception to this is when there is a restrictive condition on the premises licence which prohibits or restricts access to children. If your premises licence has such a condition you could seek to vary the premises licence to have it removed regardless of whether your establishment is ‘special’ or not!
Niall NcCann is a specialist licensing solicitor at one of the most highly regarded law firms in the leisure sector, Joelson Wilson LLP. He has considerable experience of dealing with the whole ambit of licensing law for the on-trade, including any associated gambling and regulatory issues. As an advocate Niall appears before Courts and Council Sub-Committees across England and Wales representing everyone from multiple operators to celebrity chefs. He also gives regular presentations to the licensed trade and their professional advisors on legal developments and practical steps to maximize business opportunities. He has been published extensively in magazines such as the Estates Gazette and On Trade Review and regularly writes articles for The Publican in addition to answering readers’ legal questions. www.joelsonwilson.com