The Live Music Forum

Bulletins From Hamish Birchall


Sent: 10th June 2005 Subject - The 'two in a bar rule' will finally cease on 24 November 2005


The 'two in a bar rule' will finally cease on 24 November 2005. This exemption from public entertainment licensing for one or two live performers was originally introduced in 1961.

Music and licensing minister James Purnell announced the date during a debate on licensing on Wednesday 08 June (see link at the end of this email). A DCMS press statement also confirmed the date:

24 November marks the end of the 'transition period' during which all existing licences must be converted or varied to the new premises licence.

Many, if not most, two in a bar gigs will have to be licensed under the new regime. Such gigs could be lost or postponed because local authorities may not be able to process the necessary 'variation' applications within two months (i.e. by 6 October, two months after the 6 August deadline for conversion applications). The new law states that variation applications not processed within two months are deemed refused.

Landlords whose live music applications have failed for this reason could continue to trade after 24 November, but without the live music (unless they opted for a Temporary Event Notice, up to 12 allowed per premises per year). To get a permanent live music authorisation they would have to appeal to the magistrates court to reinstate their 'variation' for live music, or re-apply to the local authority. Either way this will take months, not to mention the paperwork, fees, and potential for knock-on costs.

Link to Westminster Hall debate on licensing, 8 June 2005:

Hamish Birchall