School and village fetes seem to be an essential part of English summers. There’s nothing nicer than wandering around, dodging the inevitable rain showers, checking out the amusingly shaped vegetables, munching on a pie and watching two teams drag each other around a field in a Tug o’ War contest. For organisers, though, there’s much more to think about apart from where to get the cheapest marquee hire, and whether the tombola has enough prizes. If you’re planning an event that involves the public, you’re going to need the right paperwork.
Public liability insurance – an absolute essential
Top of the list has to be insurance, and in particular, public liability insurance. This provides you with a degree of financial protection should the worst happen, and someone is hurt during your event. As the organiser, you could be held responsible for any compensation they may wish to claim as a result of injury or damage to their property, so make sure parking areas are also covered in your insurance.
If you’re planning on serving alcohol at your event then the other major piece of legal paperwork you may need is a Temporary Events Notice, or TEN.
What is a TEN?
A TEN is a government licence that allows organisers to serve alcohol at small, one-off events such as fetes, summer fairs, or even birthday parties. There are three major restrictions that apply to TENS:
- The event must include a licensable activity such as a bar where alcohol is provided for a fee
- The event is not attended by more than 499 people at any one time (although the number of attendees can be higher across the period of the TEN)
- That the event is not held for longer than seven days
Different types of TENs
Originally, a TEN was required if alcohol was to be sold at an event, or there was ‘regulated entertainment’. However, these days many of the events previously covered by TENs are now deregulated, although you still require one if you’re selling alcohol or there are what are known as ‘proxy’ drinks available (such as a drink included in the ticket price).
A Temporary Event Notice will cost you £21, and you have to be over 18 years old. You can be granted up to five TENs in a year, although if you’ve already got a personal licence to sell alcohol, that number can increase to no more than 50 in a 12-month period. If you are planning more instances where alcohol is on sale, it may be worth considering applying for a more permanent licencing arrangement.
Who issues TENs?
You will need to contact your local council for a Temporary Event Notice, and you have to do so at least 10 working days before the big day (which doesn’t include the day your application arrives at the council office, or the day of the event, so plan ahead). You’ll also need to send the Police a copy 10 working days before the event. Our advice is to do the application online, as not only does it get through the system faster, but the council will also send a copy to the police, so it’s one less thing to have to organise.
If you leave it a little late to apply for a full Temporary Events Notice then you can ask for a ‘Late TEN’, five days beforehand.
Can the council object?
It’s unusual that a TEN is rejected, but the council can turn your notice application down if they’re concerned that there’s a risk of ‘crime and disorder’, alcohol sales could cause a public nuisance, or there is a potential threat to public safety or the safety of children. The police can also object. So, if you’re applying for a Temporary Events Notice for a school event, it might be worth considering if you really want to serve alcohol or not.
If there is an objection, then you’ll be given no less than 24 hours to respond at a hearing. If a committee approves the TEN then you may find that they add specific conditions to the licence, such as a cut-off time when the bar has to close, or levels of public noise, for example.
If you’re planning an event where alcohol is being served and you’re not sure what licence you need, don’t take a chance – talk to a legal expert so you don’t get caught out.