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 CLUB LAW AND MANAGEMENT

Late Night Levy Update

The Late Night Levy has failed to pick up traction after its initial introduction in the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne last year. The Late Night Levy is an annual fee collected from premises authorised to sell alcohol between midnight and 06:00. If the Local Authority so chooses, all licensed premises within that jurisdiction will have to pay anywhere between £299 and £4,400 per annum, depending on the rateable value of the premises, for the privilege of selling alcohol between those times.

The number of Local Authorities considering introducing the Levy has fallen sharply with 95.7% admitting that they were unlikely to introduce the Levy. Many Local Authorities have said that they will monitor the situation and may change their position in the future and some Local Authorities have an ongoing consultation process which may change the preliminary position they have taken regarding introducing the Levy.

The ACC, along with CORCA, have argued that Private Members’ Clubs should not be included within the levy as Private Members’ Clubs do not significantly contribute to the increased policing costs which are often the result of commercial establishments open to the Public. Conservative Clubs have specific Rules which enable any Member who behaves inappropriately to be suspended or expelled from the Club. If introduced, the Levy applies to all licensed establishments open after 12am regardless of the likeliness of the establishment causing problems in its local community.

The ACC will continue to update Clubs on the future of the Levy through the magazine.

ACAS Early Conciliation Service

ACAS is now requiring the vast majority of employees who wish to submit a claim for unfair or constructive dismissal to contact ACAS prior to an employment claim being submitted. ACAS will then contact both the employee and employer and ask them to enter into a new scheme called ACAS Early Conciliation Service. This will then give the employee and employer a month to try and reach an appropriate agreement. If, after both the employer and employee agree to enter into the Early Conciliation Service, an agreement is not reached then the case will continue to an employment tribunal although even after the Early Conciliation time period has elapsed, there will still be an opportunity to settle a case. If an agreement if found using the Conciliation Service then it will be legally binding on both parties.

Some key facts about the ACAS Early Conciliation service: 
- Early Conciliation is a free service. 
- Both parties will have up to a calendar month initially in which to explore resolving their dispute using the services of an ACAS conciliator. 
- ACAS conciliators will not take sides or make judgements, they will simply try to help both sides come to an agreement. 
- Should either party not wish to use the ACAS Early Conciliation service then ACAS will provide a certificate which will allow the case to proceed directly to an employment tribunal.

If a Club is facing an employment claim we suggest that they contact the ACC for advice and assistance and also contact their insurance company as soon as possible. Many insurance policies provide coverage for employment claims although it is usually a requirement that the insurance company is notified as soon as the employment problem arises.

VAT Registration Scam – Trading Standards Warn Clubs Over Mailshot

A letter entitled ‘Publication of companies and VAT Registration Numbers in the UK Corporate Portal 2014’ (pictured) which suggests that ‘as part of the changes to the EU economic package, obligating all companies to provide their VAT Registration Number on various documents since 2010, we as a publisher of leading internet portals are required to update our database’. The Company in question is a German company called TVV Tele Verzeichnis Verlag GmbH and its website address is: http://www. uk-corporate-portal.com/ which is mentioned in the letter.

The letter which Clubs have received looks very official and includes the Clubs name and address and a form to complete and return to the Company. However, if the form is completed and returned then the Club agrees, via the small print, to pay £797 annually which the company states is an advertisement charge. We strongly advise that this form is not completed, is not returned and if received is simply binned. If Clubs are in any doubt over correspondence which has been received and the legitimacy of the correspondence then please contact the ACC’s offices before taking any action. If any Clubs has already completed and returned this form then please do not pay any invoices which may arrive and contact the ACC for further advice. Please note, whilst threats of legal action may be made by this company in the event of nonpayment we would continue to advise that no payment is made and the matter should be referred to your local Trading Standards Office in addition to ourselves.

Alison Campbell, from Trading Standards, said in 2013 when an almost identical mailshot appeared: “We are concerned that local businesses may consider the letter to be an official communication.

“But if they sign and return the form to confirm their details are correct they could end up tied in to the high costs of an entry in this publication.

“Several businesses are already listed on the website as basic entries, so we anticipate that all those businesses will receive the letter.

“Businesses should be aware that there is no obligation on them to provide any information to the company and entries do not have to appear on the company’s website or portal.”

 

The Important Role of Sub-Committees

Sub-committees are the last level of management of a club. Clubs are required under the Licensing Act to have one general management committee but they may have more committees. For larger clubs these extra committees are essential, and for smaller clubs they can be extremely valuable.

The rules do not have to specify which sub-committees shall be appointed. It is usually sufficient for the general committee to be given the power to appoint such subcommittees as they deem necessary to assist them in their overall task of managing the club’s affairs. Two sub-committees generally set up by clubs are a Finance sub-committee and a Bar sub-committee. Others may include an Entertainment sub-committee and a Games subcommittee.

Sub-committees are either appointed or elected and they perform specific and specialised tasks. Their membership does not have to be composed entirely of persons elected from the club committee. However, any member of a sub-committee who is a member of the general committee would be required to stand down from the sub-committee in the event that they resign from the general committee. Also, any subcommittee concerned with the purchase or supply of intoxicating liquor on the club’s behalf, must consist of members duly elected by the club membership.

There are numerous opportunities in a club for the use of sub-committees where appointment and co-option may be used to employ the services of a wide range of members. Sub-committees provide the opportunity to bring in all the best talent available to make the conduct of affairs successful and improve the events and amenities of the club. A member who is an accountant may plead that he does not have the time to participate in all the functions of the general committee, though he can be an invaluable member of a Finance sub-committee. Members with experience in leisure industries will be attractive as recruits to an Entertainment sub-committee. Co-option to sub-committees also provides the chance for younger club members to learn management procedure.

Sub-committees can elect their own officers and adopt their own procedures however ultimately they are always responsible to the general committee. They are not usually entitled to make decisions affecting the club without the approval of the general committee. This is especially true where the sub-committee makes proposals involving the use of club funds. For example, the Entertainment or Social sub-committee could be charged with running the annual dinner or a monthly dance. As such it should either obtain an estimate cost for approval by the general committee, or that committee must specify a maximum sum within which the sub-committee plans its expenditure. If the sub-committee finds it cannot contain spending within the limit laid down, it must report back to the general committee giving its reasons and asking for the limit to be raised. The mechanics may not be the same in each club but the principle to be observed is that sub-committees must have the approval of the general committee for what they wish to do. There is a danger that members of sub-committees will believe they have a special remit of the authority of the general committee. This view must be resisted. Serious financial consequences might follow if the general committee does not have the last word in managing the club within the powers given them by the rules.

Nevertheless, members of subcommittees are not puppets. It might be difficult to find people to serve on them if they were asked to regard themselves in this way. All who serve on sub-committees should be aware not only of their powers, but also where the boundaries of those powers fall.

Sub-committees are of tremendous importance to the well-being of the club. If they are to function well, sub-committee members should be familiar with the requirements of the club’s rules and the laws relating to the conduct of Private Members’ Clubs, just as much as the officers and general committee. An Entertainment subcommittee, for instance, must be conversant with the conditions applicable to the promotion of bingo and lotteries, and to the limitations on serving drink at social functions.