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CLUB LAW AND MANAGEMENT

By Philip Smith, Secretary of the A.C.C.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED…

This month I have again used questions recently asked by Member Clubs as the basis of the ‘Club Law & Management’ article. Looking back through the Magazine indexes it would appear that this is the 15th ‘Questions and Answers’ article to be featured.

I hope readers will find it useful and of interest.


In applying for our Club Premises Certificate (which has been granted), I have discovered that the permitted hours applied for were for the previous hours used by the Club which ended, in the afternoon, at 4.30pm. We are hoping to change our certificate but have been informed that we may need to submit a completely new application.

I confirm that it would be possible to change the Club’s opening hours as granted under the Club Premises Certificate (CPC), The Club will have to advertise the application to vary the CPC and to pay an appropriate fee.

Since this variation does not constitute a substantial change I can see no reason why a new application for a CPC will have to be entered into.

If the application to vary the CPC is not opposed by a responsible authority, or an interested party, the application should be granted subject to any conditions the Licensing Authority may reasonably impose.

 

We have received a letter from the ‘Confederation of professional licensees’ stating that we need a Premises Licence and a Personal Licence Holder in order to operate. They are offering training courses at ‘reasonable costs’. Does this apply to our Club?

The information concerning the Confederation of Professional Licensees applies only to establishments with a Premises Licence operated by a Personal Licence Holder. It does not related in any way to a private club operating under a Club Premises Certificate. I suggest that you file this in the wastepaper bin!


A Member of the Club who has recently been suspended has requested copies of the Club’s committee minutes. He has referred to ‘personal data’ and has quoted Chapter 29 of the Data Protection Act 1998. Is the member entitled to see these minutes?

The question of confidentiality of committee meetings has been addressed in past editions of the Magazine. However, references to the Data Protection Act 1998 were not specifically covered in these previous articles.

The advice from our Solicitors is as follows:
“…under the Act, personal data can be requested from a Data Controller upon payment of a fee. The current maximum is in fact £10. The personal data must be held in a ‘relevant filing system’. This is defined as ‘any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that…the set is structured either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible’.”

It follows from the above, that reference to an individual in the minutes of a club could not be structured by reference to the Member who is making the access request.

In those circumstances, I consider the Club is safe in rejecting the request for disclosure of the Minutes on the basis of the Data Protection Act.

 

The Club’s Steward will be 65 years of age later in the year. He has made a written request to continue working, but the Club has a long-standing policy that all Club employees must retire on attaining the age of 65 years. What should the Committee do?

You will know from the article published in the March 2006 edition of the Magazine that new employment regulations will come into effect on 1st October 2006. This new statutory regulation concerning age discrimination in employment will have an automatic effect on your Club, irrespective of the fat that an agreed retirement policy is in place. Although the regulations remain subject to ‘Parliamentary Approval’ it is unlikely that the main thrust of the regulations will be amended.

The regulations at present will introduce the matters referred to in the Magazine article, which for the purpose of saving time, I have not set out here again.

You will appreciate that the regulations will not compel employers to continue to employ persons beyond 65 years of age but employers must seriously consider an employee’s request to continue working.

If an employer, having considered this matter, continues to request retirement, then an employee will, for the first time, be entitled to seek a claim of ‘unfair dismissal’. Therefore, employers must take into account whether an employee remains capable to continuing to work.

May I also suggest you refer to the ACAS website which contains some useful information on this subject.

 

What is the current position with Sky TV being transmitted from abroad?

The question which you have raised is one that is continually discussed in clubs. The fact is that Sky TV is now so expensive that most clubs have dispensed with their services.

Unfortunately, some clubs have installed equipment that will receive Sky products from abroad in the belief that this is legal. What annoys me is that the firms offering these services are telling clubs that it is legal to receive Sky products from abroad and are often very plausible. Also, a recent Court case concerning this matter was badly reported in the Press and gave the impression that it is possible to receive these transmissions. In fact, the Judge recalled the parties involved to Court to explain that this was no the case, but, typically this later clarification has not been so widely reported.

It is actually unlawful under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act to show Sky products that are transmitted from abroad and Clubs are liable to fines if prosecuted.

Several Clubs have entered into leasing agreements for equipment, only to find that it is not legal to show what was originally offered as part of the package.

We have continually asked Sky to prosecute the firms who are supplying this equipment, rather than the clubs which are being ‘hoodwinked’ into paying for it.

I am sorry to have to give such disappointing reply but ultimately, if a sufficient umber of public houses and clubs remove Sky, then perhaps Sky will realise that their fees are, quite simply, too high.

  

MINIMUM WAGE REMINDER
From 1st October 2006 the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is increasing:

* The main rate for workers aged 22 years and over is to rise from £5.05 to £5.35 per hour.
* The development rate for workers aged 18-21 is currently set at £4.25 per hour and this will increase to £4.45 per hour.
* The rate for workers aged 16-17 years (except apprentices) increases from £3.00 to £3.30 per hour.

More details on the NMW can be found at: www.dti.gov.uk/er/nmw


FIVE KEY STEPS TO COMPLY WITH NEW FIRE SAFETY RULES
Most clubs have now received information from the Government regarding fire safety and it is appropriate to include a note on this subject in the Magazine.

On 1st October 2006, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 comes into force. This order replaces previous fire regulations and existing fire certificates will cease to have any effect.

The new rules will affect all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. This will include all our clubs.

Clubs must nominate a responsible person who must ensure that the Order is complied with to ensure the safety of employees, officers, members, visitors and all relevant persons so far as is reasonably practicable.

The responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment which must focus on the safety in case of fire of all ‘relevant persons’.

Clubs should not panic about this new Order.

The fire safety risk assessment is, in the majority of cases, reasonably straightforward provided it is given adequate and thoughtful attention.

Do not overcomplicate the process; the risks are probably well known to you already and the necessary control measures not difficult to apply.

There are five key steps to a successful completion and these are explained on the Government publication you should have received. Broadly the key steps are as follows:

STEP 1: Identify the fire hazards – How could a fire start and what could burn?
STEP 2: Identify people at risk – Everyone is at risk but some more so than others. Consider the elderly, children or disabled people.
STEP 3: Evaluate and act – Consider what you have found in steps 1 and 2: what are the risks of a fire starting and what are the risks to people in the building and nearby? Remove and reduce risk: take action to protect your premises and people from fire.
STEP 4: Record – Keep a record of any fire hazards and what you have done to reduce or remove them: plan how to prevent fire and how you will keep people safe in case of fire: train staff so they know what to do in case of fire.
STEP 5: Review – Keep your risk assessment under regular review because over time the risks may change.

All the above is explained in much more detail on the website www.communities.gov.uk/fire and the government booklet ‘Fire Safety Risk Assessment’ can be purchased from this site or downloaded free of charge.

Although the Order comes into force on 1st October 2006 it is generally felt that the Order will not be rigidly enforced from that day.

It is, however, important that our clubs take steps to comply within a reasonable time scale.

The local Fire and Rescue Authority Service will be the enforcing authority and they will have the power to inspect your premises to check that you are complying with your duties under the Order.

It is important to note that even if a club is not inspected they may be very serious insurance related issues should a fire occur and a risk assessment is absent.

As with all legislation, firms will appear who offer their services. Some will be genuine and some will use scare tactics to sell unnecessary reports at an inflated price. You should be very wary of who you commit to.

For those who feel they are unable to complete the risk assessment the A.C.C. are working closely with approved consultants who will be prepared to assist at various levels from offering free guidance through to conducting a site survey and providing, for a reasonable fee, a complete Risk Assessment on behalf of the club.

We are grateful to Graham Bennett, of Bennett Kaye Commercial, for providing this article.

 

GAMING MACHINES LICENCE DUTY
Although not mentioned in the Chancellor’s Budget, new rates of Gaming Machine Licence Duty came into force last month, 1st August 2006.

Duty on video and quiz machines and pinball tables with a cost per play of 50p or more, remains at £250 per machine.

Duty on 5p stake gaming machines with payouts which vary, has increased from £665 to £735 per machine.

Duty on gaming machines with stakes which are over 5p and under £1, with maximum payouts of £250, has been combined to a new level of £1,780 per machine.

Previously, two-tier duty was applied depending on the amount of stake required to play, i.e. £1,415 or £1,915. Therefore, the cost of duty on some machines has reduced by £135 per machine, whilst the cost of duty on 10p play machines has increased by £365. Most Clubs will now, as a result, wish to install machines which have a stake of 20p or more.

Please note, Gaming Machine Licence Duty is totally separate from the registration fee paid for a Gaming Machine Certificate under the Gaming Act.

The Gambling Act is due to come into force on 1st September 2007 (see January 2006 Magazine). Further details and advice concerning this Act will be published in future editions of the Magazine.