When planning an event, there are a number of legal considerations that need to be taken into account. This article by Francene Mullings, will explore some of the most important legal issues to consider when planning an event.
You’ve booked the speaker, hired a hall, recruited a team of volunteers and prepared a marketing plan. If that wasn’t enough, you must also ensure your event does not fall foul of various legal issues. Exact event legal requirements vary from place to place and the rules that apply depend on the type of event. The list below points out the major issues you need to think about, but you should also take advice from the administrator of the organisation(s) involved in your event. If you’re not sure about any of these items you can discuss them with your venue, as they should have experience with them.
If you are going to invite the public to see a play, watch a film, or listen to live or recorded music, or something similar, you need to do so in premises that are correctly licensed. The licence will determine exactly what activities are permitted and between what hours. Don’t assume you can have a concert run beyond 11pm without checking the licence permits it. If the premises don’t have the correct licence you can get what’s called a Temporary Event Notice, which is effectively a short-term licence. For more information contact your local council.
Selling or supplying alcohol is also regulated by the premises license. Not only do you need to have the correct license arrangement in place, you also need to ensure someone present is a Personal Licence Holder. The penalties for breaking the rules around the supply of alcohol can be very severe so take great care in this area.
Health & Safety Requirements
It’s essential to understand who is responsible for health and safety matters and to perform the correct risk assessments.
The venue will be responsible for premises-related health and safety, such as trip hazards from worn flooring, or emergency evacuation. But event organisers take responsibility for event equipment, such as trip hazards from power cables for speakers or other equipment brought into the venue.
You will need to perform risk assessments and document them. Think about what sort of things might go wrong and the possible outcomes.
Public Liability Insurance
You need to have public liability insurance in place for your event. What happens if an elderly visitor to your event slips in the car park and breaks their leg? Or if a piece of equipment falls on someone and injures them? These things do happen so you need to have the right insurance in place. Liaise with your venue to see what is covered by their insurance, and what isn’t.
Usually you will only have issues with volume if your event features a particularly loud band or will take place late in the evening. Some premises are subject to noise abatement orders, meaning they’re legally obliged to measure noise and keep it below a certain level. Other premises need to give due care and attention to their neighbours.
All newer premises are required to provide full access and facilities for disabled people, but older premises are not. Event organisers do not have to ensure access for disabled people, but it’s good practice to do so wherever possible. Where it’s not possible the publicity should point this out.
If you are serving food to the public it needs to have been prepared and stored in accordance with food hygiene regulations. Someone with a food hygiene certificate should take responsibility for managing the catering.Premises that are regularly used for food preparation are inspected by the local council from time to time.
If you are planning a major event and do expect to have enough car parking space it is wise to talk to the Police about what other arrangements might be possible. If you need to keep kerbsides clear on certain roads you can hire traffic cones from the Police for this purpose.
Your organisation should have a Child Protection Policy and your event should comply with this. If it does not, or if this is a privately organised function, you need to be aware of child protection issues. At the very least any volunteers working with children must have had a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
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