Entertainment licensing – Nightclub director faces sentencing Make sure you have the right music licence at your club, pub or bar

Entertainment Licensing

Nightclubs, bars and pubs should get appropriate licensing including entertainment licensing to play sound recordings

PRS for Music and PPL Entertainment Licences

Owners of nightclubs, bars and pubs should pay attention to a recent case. The Phonographic Performance Ltd V Nightclub (London) Ltd [2016] EWHC 892 (Ch) case shows what can happen if venues do not have the proper licensing for recorded music.
In short, Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) applied for an injunction to stop a club owner from playing recorded music without the appropriate licence. This should have been a routine matter except the club owner ignored the PPL until it was too late.

Entertainment Licensing

Entertainment Licensing

Committal proceedings are proceedings for sending a person to prison. PPL successfully applied for committal of the club owner to prison. PPL had obtained an injunction earlier on preventing the club owner from playing recorded music without the appropriate licence. The club owner ignored it. PPL applied for permission to issue a writ of sequestration against the company and committal against the director for contempt of court. The club owner, who was a director, and the company through which he ran the nightclub were found to be in contempt of court.

Licence to play background music

The background was that PPL gained knowledge that the club was playing recorded music without a licence. A licence for background music was issued. The club was also playing recordings for DJ sets. The club did not have a licence for that type of entertainment. PPL received payment for the licence but it was too late. Payment was only received after an injunction had been obtained. The club owner failed to attend two hearings.

Make sure you have the right music licence at your club, pub or bar

It was held that:
1. The orders were properly served. The company was in breach of the order and in contempt of court beyond any reasonable doubt.
2. There had been a wilful failure by the club owner to prevent the breach of the order, PJSC Vseukrainsky Aktsionerny Bank v Maksimov [2014] EWHC 3771 (comm) and IPartner pte Shipping Ltd v. Panacore Resources DMCC [2014] EWHC 3608 (comm) applied.
3. There was a deliberate failure to attend the application. The checklist in Sanchez Voboz [2015] EWHC 235 (fam), [2015] Fam Law 380 applied.
4. There would be a separate sentencing hearing.

Entertainment Licensing

Entertainment Licensing

It is very difficult to obtain a successful order in committal proceedings. The court must have taken a very dim view of the club owner’s conduct. But this case is not only a good case to remember in entertainment licensing cases. It is important in any case where there is a court order to do something with a penal notice. If you receive an order with a penal notice you should seek legal advice. Do not just ignore it. You could end up at a sentencing hearing if you ignore it. Click here to read our article on Event and Club Promotion Contracts. Click here to read our article on Live Broadcast Licences.
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