Late night refreshment

Under the Licensing Act 2003 ("the Act"), the supply of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment and the provision of late night refreshment can all be carried on under one authorisation.  

For the purposes of the Act, the provision of late night refreshment means the supply of hot food or hot drink to the public, for consumption on or off the premises, between 11pm and 5am or the supply of hot food or hot drink to any persons between those hours on or from premises to which the public has access.

Food or drink is "hot" for the purposes of the Act if it is heated on the premises or elsewhere before it is supplied for the purpose of enabling it to be consumed at above ambient air temperature, or if it may be heated on the premises for this purpose after it is supplied.

The Act provides for a number of supplies to be exempt supplies which will not constitute the provision of late night refreshment. Examples are the provision of hot drink by vending machines in certain circumstances; where the hot food or hot drink is supplied free of charge; or where it is supplied by a registered charity.

Including late night takeaways and fast-food outlets in the Act extends the licensing regime which already operates in most of London to all of England and Wales. The Government feels this is necessary to protect local residents because premises which serve late night refreshment can be used by customers who may have been drinking at other premises earlier in the evening, thereby creating the potential for disorder on and near the premises. Also, because large numbers of customers may gather at places serving late night refreshments, there is a potential for nuisance and disturbance for local residents. The regulation of late night refreshment will tackle these issues and allow residents and other interested parties and responsible authorities to make representations about new, and seek reviews of existing licences where they are concerned that the licensing objectives will be or have been affected.  

It is also anticipated that the provisions will help drive up standards within the late night hospitality sector and encourage greater diversification of the evening economy.

Frequently asked questions about late night refreshment and the Act.(pdf, 57KB)

Updated: 27 September 2019