Relaxation of alcohol licence laws for Queen’s platinum jubilee welcomed

Out-Law News | 30 Mar 2022 | 11:35 am | 2 min. read

The planned relaxation of alcohol licensing laws in England and Wales for the Queen’s platinum jubilee could give pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants a “financial boost” going into the summer period, according to one expert

The UK government has announced its intention to introduce new legislation for a licensing hours order under section 172 of the 2003 Licensing Act. The order will extend the licensing hours for licensed premises from 11pm to 1am the following day on Thursday 2 June, Friday 3 June and Saturday 4 June 2022. Off licence sales are not included in the extended hours due to “concerns of a potential increase in crime and disorder”. 

The move comes as ministers plan a four-day bank holiday weekend to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign. Her platinum jubilee will also include the trooping the colour ceremony, the lighting of beacons, a service of thanksgiving and nationwide street parties. The government announcement follows an earlier consultation in December 2021, that focused on whether licensing hours should be extended, and the scope of a licensing hours order, including the dates, times, geographical extent and licensable activities to which it should apply.

Hannah Burton of Pinsent Masons said: “It is good to see the secretary of state using the powers provided in the Licensing Act to relax opening hours in England and Wales over the Queens platinum jubilee. These orders have, over the years, been used to good effect to enable premises to capitalise on national events.”

“Without the section 172 order, each premises would have to make individual applications to local authorities for extended hours - a costly and time-consuming exercise. Avoiding this difficulty in an industry already struggling to recover from the pandemic is definitely welcomed. Hopefully it will give premises licence holders a boost going into the summer period,” she added.

“The conditions on the premises licence will remain in force during these additional hours, so premises licence holders need to ensure that they can meet their obligations and not breach any of the conditions on the premises licence,” Burton said.

In Scotland, the 2005 Licensing (Scotland) Act gives local authorities’ licensing boards discretion to extend hours without the need for legislation. While several boards have already done so, specific hours vary by area.

In Northern Ireland, section 7 of the 2021 Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) allows ministers to make a ‘major event order’ that can include extending hours for licensed premises. The Act is, however, being introduced in phases, meaning that the major event order powers have not yet been brought into force. They are expected to be introduced on 6 April; therefore, developments post-6 April must be monitored to determine whether extended hours will operate over the Platinum Jubilee period.

Past national occasions where the government has extended licensing hours have included the royal weddings in 2011 and 2018, when the government extended licensing hours until 1am for two nights to facilitate the country’s celebrations. Licensing hours have also previously been extended for the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016, the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012.Past national occasions where the government has extended licensing hours have included the royal weddings in 2011 and 2018, when the government extended licensing hours until 1am for two nights to facilitate the country’s celebrations. Licensing hours have also previously been extended for the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016, the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012.

The platinum jubilee will form one of the government’s three planned “landmark events” taking place in 2022, alongside the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and the Unboxed festival.