When you are running and arranging events, your ass is quite liable to be on the line for a number of reasons and not just regarding the success of the event. Such success however, is dependent on the assurance that your event is actually legal. It is not ok just to commander a field or garden area (even if rent is being paid to the proprietor), set up base camp and invite along the public or even host a private party. While it sounds like fun, I am not just talking about a small backyard barbeque and there some tight regulations you must comply with.

Playing Ball

Don’t play the “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” as this will not work in your favour. Being a pretty face will also not get you out of the trouble you are likely to find yourself in if you don’t play ball!. Licences are not something you may think about but are taken very seriously. Don’t assume either that each county council will work in the same way. While there are some general rules to adhere to when hosting events (whatever the size), it is always a good thing to double check what you need to have in place according to your locality. You just never know when there is something you haven’t thought of.

Size Does Matter

The location and size of your event will affect the type of certificate or permit you require. Larger events are, of course, much more complicated and require some extra special attention although don’t be deceived by smaller events.

Whatever the size, certain rules and regulations still apply and some detailed planning is definitely necessary. Environmental, safety, fire, medical, hygiene and sanitary matters are all things that you suddenly need to become an expert in (for want of a better word). The requirements to obtain the necessary license, will however, vary according to location, size, entertainment and purpose of the event so it is in your best interests to present a detailed description and layout of your event as soon as you possibly can.

It may not always be the case that a permit or certification is needed per se but there are definitely some fundamental aspects that you will need to comply with or ensure others are in compliance with, in order for your event to proceed without complications, if allowed to go ahead at all.

The trick however, is not to assume but to ask! Know what you need ahead of time and plan accordingly. Understand that there is no such thing as a stupid question and making checking, double-checking and triple checking your daily motto!

Do Your Homework

You need to do your homework or even delegate the homework if you have to. Where you can lighten the load off your own shoulders, then do so but you will need to ensure that you follow up in a timely manner in order to ensure everything has been taken care of. Drawing up a timeline for the permits, planning and event management drafts that you will be asked to provide, is most definitely useful. Don’t leave anything to chance or the last minute

Time management for any event is crucial and here are some of the things that you must make time for in your busy event planning agenda:

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts of 1989 and 2005 and associated Regulations:

You need to ensure that your event is safe, that your suppliers and contractors are in possession of the correct safety certification that allows them to assemble any temporary structures and all food is being prepared to exacting health regulations.

All and any suppliers need to be able to prove that not only do they have the certification that they need but are acting in compliance with the rules and regulations as stated. You will also need to ensure that you have employer liability insurance and even public liability insurance where necessary.

Planning and Development Act 2001:Part XVI (licensing of outdoor events regulations):

This is particularly relevant for outdoor public entertainment for audiences of 5000 or more. Any entertainment equipment being supplied for events needs to have been checked and is good condition although I am sure you do not need me to point out that fault wiring does not bid good news.

Volume levels also need to be adhered to and where it is necessary to fly and sound and lighting equipment, permission to do so will be required. To provide entertainment as a service where entertainment is being paid for, regardless of whether there is an admission cost or not, you will also need to ensure that your venue is covered with what is called an entertainment license in accordance with the Public Entertainments (Licensing Act 2003).

Fire Services Act 1981:

Event Managers always need to ensure that adequate safety and emergency precautions are in place for any event. Particular focus, however, is needed the materials used within the event venue. These materials may be decorative elements or used for the construction of temporary venue spaces such as marquees and tents. In these cases, it is particularly important that you are in compliance with fire safety standards and check out all requirements. The best practice is to check in with the local fire authority in case risk assessments of the site need to be conducted.

Licensing of Indoor Events Act 2003:

Outdoor events licenses are mostly restricted to attendance numbers of more than 5000 people but indoor events are not. It may be that the venue you are using already has an annual events license but it is always your responsibility to check that nothing additional is required.

Waste Management Acts, 1996 and 2001:

Permits are often required for the removal and disposal of waste, especially where there is no current or permanent system in place. Skips are a particularly unsightly issue for local authorities and even though your supplier will most likely have a permit to operate a skip, you may need a special permit to have it on your event grounds depending on the locality of course.

The other useful pieces of legislation worth checking include the Code of Practice for Safety at Outdoor Pop Concerts and Other Musical Events (Dept. of Education – 1996).

Whatever the case, do your research and make sure you are in the clear. The extra effort and expense will always pay off and although it logical that large events will need a permission of some sort or another, never fall into the trap of assuming that smaller events will fall under the radar of the local authorities. Remember that you never know who is watching and “assumption is the mother of all f*** ups”.


Following a University degree and a drastic career move, Fiona Warren-Bassett soon found herself rapidly moving forward in the events and PR world. Enjoying the change of direction, Fiona went on to further her Event Management experience, spending 6 years working for a renowned cruise line company. Having travelled extensively and been actively involved in many events and weddings, Fiona has since returned to land and has successfully launched her freelance writing and PR career.
Request a Demo Promote an Event Partners
Tagged with: , ,