The 5 outside dining laws you need to know this summer

The 5 outside dining laws you need to know this summer

The 5 outside dining laws you need to know this summer

Long term forecasts are predicting summer 2016 to be one of the hottest on record, and when the mercury rises here in the UK, it's an excellent time for hospitality operators to make the most of the weather conditions and offer their guests the chance to experience the sunshine in a comfortable outside area. However, although utilising the alfresco appeal can bring huge business benefits, it is important to be aware that there are certain legal issues to consider:

1. Pavement seating

Offering pavement seating requires the purchase of a permit under the Highways Act 1980. Additionally, placing furniture on a public highway - i.e. a pavement - requires planning permission from your local council before you can apply for a permit. Getting the green light can depend on factors such as whether the furniture will cause obstructions and be cleared away at night as well as the potential for additional noise.

2. Noise restrictions

The Licensing Act 2003 requires licensed premises to prevent public nuisance (and failure to do this could see your license taken away) - this includes customers making too much noise in an outside space. Additionally, the Noise Act 1996 states that licensed premises making excessive noise between the hours of 11pm and 7am the next morning could face a fine or even prosecution.

Check your current license for any conditions regarding noise i.e. not allowing crowds to gather in certain areas. Place strategic signs to let customers know when noise levels need to come down; and ensure all staff take responsibility for managing this.

3. Licenses for late night refreshments

According to the Licensing Act 2003, you will need to apply for a license if you intend to sell refreshments consisting of hot food and drink between the hours of 11pm and 5am. This does not include the sale of hot drinks that contain alcohol as these are covered by a different license.

4. The Live Music Act

Putting on entertainment in your outside space is a fantastic way of enticing customers in. However, whether or not you need a license will depend on the circumstances. You do not need one for live or recorded music if it is played between 8am and 11pm; takes place at an alcohol on-licensed premises; and as long as the audience consists of no more than 500 people.

5. Smoking

Although smoking outside spaces is legal, it depends on the venue as to whether they wish to enforce a ban. There is ongoing debate in the media about this issue - Bristol recently became the first city in the UK to ban smoking in outdoor public spaces, though it is up to individual bars and restaurants if they choose to comply.

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