Under the Licensing Act 2003, Members' Clubs (e.g. working men's clubs, social clubs)  need authorisation to use club premises for relevant activities, including the supply/sale of alcohol and regulated entertainment for members and guests.

Such clubs are generally organisations where members join together for a particular social, sporting or political purpose and then combine to purchase alcohol in bulk for members.

The clubs carry on activities from premises to which public access is restricted and alcohol is supplied other than for profit. For these reasons, the Licensing Act 2003 preserves aspects of earlier alcohol licensing law which applied to 'registered members clubs' and affords clubs special treatment outside the normal premises licence arrangements.

Clubs which meet specified criteria set out in the Licensing Act 2003 are known as 'qualifying clubs' and the authority under which they may supply alcohol and conduct other 'qualifying club activities' from their premises is a club premises certificate issued by the licensing authority. The grant of a club premises certificate means that a club is entitled to certain benefits, which include the authority to supply alcohol to its members and sell it to guests without the need for any member or employee to hold a personal licence, and the absence of a requirement to specify a designated premises supervisor. There are also more limited rights of entry for the police and other authorised persons, as the premises are considered private and not generally open to the public.

The arrangements for applying for club premises certificates are extremely similar to those in respect of premises licences. For example, similar provisions apply regarding the requirement for advertisement of applications and the making of representations to the licensing authority as apply in the case of applications for premises licences.

What is a qualifying club?

To be classified as a qualifying club in relation to a qualifying club activity, a number of general conditions must be met. These are:

  • That under the rules of the club, persons may not be admitted to membership, or be admitted, as candidates for membership, to any of the privileges of membership without an interval of at least two days between their nomination for membership and their admission
  • That under the rules of the club, those becoming members without prior nomination or application may not be admitted to the privileges of membership without an interval of at least two days between their becoming members and their admission
  • That the club is established and conducted in good faith as a club
  • That the club has at least 25 members
  • That alcohol is not supplied to members on the premises otherwise than by or on behalf of the club

To qualify as a club authorised to supply alcohol to its members and guests, additional conditions must be met. These are:

  • The purchase and supply of alcohol by and for the club is managed by a committee made up of elected members of the club all aged over 18 years
  • No arrangements may be made for any person to receive any commission, percentage or similar payment at the expense of the club with reference to purchases of alcohol by the club
  • No arrangements may be made for any person to derive directly or indirectly any monetary benefit from the supply of alcohol to members or guests apart from to benefit the club as a whole or any indirect benefit a person derives by reason of the supply contributing to a general gain for the club as a whole

How do licensing authorities determine whether a club is established and conducted in good faith?

In determining whether a club is established and conducted in good faith, the licensing authority will have to look at a number of matters and take those into account. These matters are:

  • Any arrangements restricting the freedom of the club to purchase alcohol
  • Any arrangements where the money or property of the club or any gain arising from the running of the club can be used for purposes otherwise than for the benefit of the club as a whole or for charitable, benevolent or political purposes
  • The arrangements for giving members information about the finances of the club
  • The books of account or any other records kept to ensure accuracy of that information
  • The nature of the premises occupied by the club

What activities does a club premises certificate authorise?

A club premises certificate may authorise the conduct of any of the qualifying club activities, namely: 

  • the supply of alcohol by or on behalf of the club to, or to the order of, members of the club 
  • the sale by retail of alcohol by or on behalf of the club to a guest of a member of the club for consumption on the premises where the sale takes place
  • the provision of regulated entertainment (where that provision is by or on behalf of a club for members of the club or members of the club and their guests)
  • However, you will have to specify in the club operating schedule the qualifying club activities to which the application relates

Will Tacit Apply?

Yes.  This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard by the end of the target completion period which is 28 days (not including possible committee hearing date) from the date of submission of all correct and relevant information.

How to Apply

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Contact Details

For further information or clarification please contact the:

Licensing Authority, Public Safety and Regulation, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH

Phone: 0191 278 7878 and ask for Licensing Authority.

Email: licensing@newcastle.gov.uk

Page last updated: 
25 June 2015
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