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Some cheer for Owners of Tenanted Pubs

18th January, 2010

It is common practice for the licence of managed premises to be held in the name of the owner of the premises (such as a brewery) rather than that of the tenant, since it makes it administratively simpler if the tenant changes which in the current commercial climate can be relatively often. However, if the tenant then breaches the terms of the licence, this can cause problems.

In a recent case, a brewery faced charges arising from breaches of the conditions set out in the premises licence. It was not denied that the offences had occurred, but the brewery denied it was liable for the offences because, whilst it was the licence holder, it did not carry out the licensable activity.

The brewery was convicted of four offences in the Magistrates’ Court, but the convictions were overturned on appeal to the High Court, where it was held that who was the person responsible for the breaches was a matter of fact and that the mere fact that a person held the premises licence did not mean that they were responsible for the licensable activities that took place on the premises.

The issue of licences together with wet and dry stock considerations often arise on business transfer when leasehold or freehold property is also involved. The Real Estate team at Aaron and Partners link in closely to the Corporate and Employment and Regulatory Teams when acting on Leisure Industry transactions.

Contact Eliot Hibbert for assistance with leasehold or freehold pub or hotel acquisitions and sales or queries under existing leasehold covenants on 01244 405567 or email him here.

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