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Club Law & Management

Q There has been a question raised regarding whether we should allow Children in the Club. We have a Bye Law in our Rules which states that the admittance of a child is up to the discretion of the Committee. What is the legal situation regarding children being in the Club?

A With the summer holidays approaching this is a good question. Legally a child aged under 16 can only be on the Club’s premises if accompanied by an adult aged over 18. Whilst a Club’s Rules could provide for a person aged between 16 and 18 years of age to be a Junior Member, and as such have access to the Club, such a person cannot purchase or consume alcohol. The Committee should therefore make it clear that children aged under 16 are only permitted inside the Club when accompanied by an adult. The Committee can also consider if they wish to place further restrictions on children, such as providing designated hours when children will not be permitted inside the Club irrespective of whether or not they are accompanied by an adult.

Q The Committee would like to know if we can hold a Casino Night under the terms of our Club Premises Certificate?

A The Club can offer the facilities in which equal chance card games can be played, such as Poker or Bridge. When games such as these are played, the Club can only take a participation fee from each player with the stakes going to the winning players. When such games are run, the Club does not receive income directly from the money which is staked. A Casino Night where the Club receives income from the betting/stakes would not be lawful.

The Club could, however, run a Casino Evening if the proceeds are used for charitable purposes. When such an evening is run none of the funds raised can be taken by the Club or otherwise used for private gain. The funds would have to be used to further a charitable cause. The Charities Act 2006 defines what a charitable purpose may be although the definition is wide and common sense should be sufficient. We can provide specific details regarding what is considered a charitable purpose if required. If the Club is purely looking to profit from the increased bar takings or increased attendance resulting from a casino evening then a casino charity evening can be considered (technically known as non-commercial prize gaming). The players must be told what good cause will benefit from the profits of the evening before play begins. The prizes must be advertised in advance and must not depend on the number of people playing or the stakes raised.

In non-commercial prize gaming, the casino gaming determines the individual winner or winners, for example by counting who has the most casino chips at a set time. The winners are then awarded the prizes that have been advertised in advance. Any profits relating from the casino games would have to go to one of the above charitable purposes but, importantly, the bar takings could be retained by the Club.

The Gambling Commission has useful information on such evenings here: http://www. gamblingcommission.gov.uk/frequently_asked_questions_fa/casinos/can_i_hold_a_casino_night.aspx#Types_of_casino_ nights

Q We have a Member whose conduct outside of the Club has reflected badly on the Club’s reputation and standing. Can we take disciplinary action against a Member if the conduct in question has not occurred within the Club?

A Any action, whether inside or outside of the Club, which brings the Club into disrepute can be grounds for disciplinary action. This includes content posted using social media. The Club should use its usual disciplinary procedure to deal with this situation, making it clear to the Member why he has been summoned to the disciplinary meeting and providing details of his alleged conduct.

Q We understand that we can apply for 12 Temporary Event Notices (TEN) per year which will enable the Club to stay open past its licensable hours and/or serve alcohol to non-members. Are there any technicalities we should be aware of before we submit a TEN?

A It is important to make sure that the TEN is submitted at least 10 working days (weekends and bank holidays do not count) before the event is due to take place. The 10 working days does not include the day of the event or the day in which the Council receives the application. A Late TEN can be submitted at least 5 working days prior to the event although in the case of a Late TEN if an objection is raised there will be an automatic veto on the application rather than a right to a hearing if an objection is received on a standard TEN application.

It is also important to submit the TEN to the correct authorities. If you are submitting a paper application then in addition to the sending it to the Licensing Authority (along with the fee of £21) you should also send a copy of the application to the Police and Environmental Health Authority. Many Councils operate an online submission scheme which will usually mean that the TEN application is automatically delivered to all the relevant authorities.

When submitting the TEN, it should be clear what dates and times that the TEN is to cover. If the TEN is to allow the Club to trade outside of its licensable hours, then it is these times which should be clearly identified on the TEN. The Club can apply for 12 TENs per year which can cover a total of 21 days. There must be a gap of at least 24 hours between each TEN and a single TEN cannot cover more than 168 hours.

Q Can you clarify who should be the Steward’s ‘line manager’? Historically our Club’s Secretary has directly dealt with the Steward and has relayed the view of the Committee. A question has been raised if another Member of the Committee can liaise with the Steward and provide instructions to the Steward? The Steward maintains that he will only answer to the Club’s Secretary.

A The Committee of each Club should decide who will be the Steward’s ‘line manager’. Ideally, the chosen person, or persons, should be regularly within the Club so that employees can approach them to ask questions and raise issues.

Theoretically, the entire Committee could be given responsibility for the day to day management of employees but this would likely create logistical problems and lead to poor overall management of the employees. It is important to provide a consistent approach to dealing with employees and therefore one person or a small sub-section of the Committee should be appointed with the responsibility of managing the Club’s employees on a day to day basis.

The long term decisions will, of course, still remain the purview of the entire Committee but frequently situations will arise between Committee Meetings which can be properly and promptly resolved if the Committee delegates a person to act on their behalf between meetings. There is no point having to wait until the next Committee Meeting to be able to make a simple employee decision which is why it is important for the Committee to delegate the responsibility of managing the Club’s employees to a small number of people. Any issues which arise between meetings can then be reported to the Committee at the next meeting along with the action taken.

The Steward is clearly under the impression that the Committee have instructed him to be answerable to the Secretary on a day to day basis which is a perfectly acceptable approach for a Club to take. I suggest that this issue is raised at a future Committee Meeting so that it can be clarified which Committee Members are to be responsible for managing the Club’s employees between Committee Meetings. If the Committee decide that others, in addition to the Secretary, are to have some responsibility for managing the Club’s employees directly then it is advisable to communicate this change of policy to the Steward. If the Committee have previously decided that the Steward is answerable to other Committee Members, in addition to the Secretary, then clearly this will have to be clarified with the Steward also.

Q We are currently in dispute with one of our employees regarding holiday pay. Whilst we both agree that the annual entitlement is 5.6 weeks, we have a policy of paying double time when an employee works on a bank holiday. We consider that this counts as one of their holiday days and the employee disagrees. Who is correct?

A Your employee is correct on this point. Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday per year. For an employee working five days a week this becomes 28 days. For jobs which are standard Monday- Friday hours where the employees do not work bank holidays then this amount can become 20 days of the employee’s choosing and the 8 annual bank holidays where they do not work but would normally be expected to work. If we assume that an employee works on all 8 bank holidays then they would still have the 28 days of statutory holiday available to them to take. It is simply making sure that an employee is able to take 28 days of holiday per year. If they take off all 8 bank holidays then they only have 20 days to take. If they work all bank holidays without a replacement paid day off then they would still have 28 days of holiday to take.

Paying an employee double time on a bank holiday does not mean that it can be counted as one of their holiday days.

In light of this information, you may wish to review the Club’s pay policy for working bank holidays. You are not legally required to increase an employee’s pay because they work on a bank holiday although you should also be mindful of whether they have a contractual right to increased pay on these days. We can provide further assistance to Clubs on this point if required.

Q Following a recent VAT inspection, HMRC questioned our practice of not applying VAT on room hire to members or on income from the snooker and pool tables. Can you confirm if we are correct in not applying VAT to these sources of income?

A The Club is correct in not applying VAT on these two specific sources of income. The hire of the Club’s rooms to members is exempt from VAT and Section 10 of Notice 701/5 Clubs and Associations refers to this particular matter. The income from snooker and pool tables is also exempt from VAT and Section 3.5.7 of Notice 701/45 Sport refers to this matter. I suggest you reply to HMRC giving details of the above Notice references and state that the club is not in breach of any VAT payment requirements. Please let us know if you have any problems with HMRC and we will contact HMRC on your behalf.

Q One of our Members runs a local betting shop and is a licensed bookmaker. Whilst the Club does not provide facilities in which Members can place a bet, is it a breach of our licence if this Member takes bets from Members within the Club?

A It would definitely be a breach of the Club’s licence to allow this Member to take bets inside the Club from Club Members, even if the bets are then processed and honoured at his own betting shop. This is because his license does not extend to taking bets on the Club’s premises. It is an offence to provide betting facilities inside any premise which is not issued with a Betting Premises Licence. This means that even though the Club is not a party to any betting transaction and the transactions are between individual Members the Club would still be in breach of the Gambling Act by providing the facility in which the betting is taking place.

Members can, however, use their mobile phones to place a bet as long as they are using their own personal account. If the Club provides wifi then it is also not an offence if this is used to place a bet via a smartphone app or similar method.

Q In the past the Committee have had cause to expel certain Members from the Club due to their conduct.

A question has been raised over whether an expelled Member, which we refer to as a ‘life ban’, could ever reapply for Membership? A Under the Rules of most Clubs, a Member who has been expelled from the Club can only reapply for Membership with the consent of the Committee and even if that consent is given, the Committee can still vote against the admission of a candidate.

Careful consideration should always be given to the request of previously expelled Members to reapply for Membership. A previous Committee would not have taken such a decision lightly. Also bear in mind that whilst a simple majority is required for a committee to agree that a previously expelled Member can reapply for Membership, the actual re-election to Membership normally only needs two votes against to exclude a candidate. Therefore an agreement that an expelled Member can reapply is certainly not a guarantee of reelection.

Q Please can you clarity a point regarding membership. Once someone applies to be a member and their name is displayed within the Club, is it correct that if just one member objects they cannot become a member?

A It is not correct. Whilst Members may object to a Membership candidate, it is the Committee which makes the final decision.

The Committee may wish to consider the views of Members when making their decision but ultimately the authority to elect or reject a candidate’s application for Membership is vested solely in the Committee under the terms of your Clubs Rules. Therefore, a Club could have a situation where no Members object to the nomination but it is rejected by the Committee or where 100 Members object but the Committee accept the nomination. Ultimately, however, whilst the Committee has the final say they will usually be guided by any objections which may be expressed by Members. That is the purpose of displaying a candidate’s name on a Notice Board.

Q Could one of our bar staff be criminally liable if a Member purchased two drinks and passes one of these drinks onto a person who it turns out is intoxicated and had previously being refused a drink?

A Under the Licensing Act 2003 there is a requirement that bar staff have adequate supervision of the bar area. The specific offences under the 2003 Act are permitting disorderly conduct and selling alcohol to a person who is drunk. The situation that you describe would constitute an offence in that the employee did not have sufficient supervision of the bar area to prevent an intoxicated customer obtaining a further drink. It has also been previously established that a sober customer ordering a drink for someone who is already intoxicated would not be a valid defence against a charge being made of making a supply to an intoxicated person. We suggest that bar staff are vigilant about making sure that persons who are intoxicated are not able to obtain further drinks and all at all times all reasonable steps are taken to prevent drunkenness in the Club’s premises. This is one of any Clubs key licensing responsibilities.