Substantial Meal and Pubs

Substantial meal case law

Publicans are rightly confused as to the government’s announcement that pubs and bars would be closed ‘except where serving a substantial meal”. So is there anything of comfort in the legal archives (?) fortunately there is a legal case of Timmis v Millman in 1965 which gives the best definitions of what this is. This is not to say local enforcement might not have their own way of defining such matters. Therefore it would seem prudent to have a copy of the case law definition to hand should your pub receive a visit.

The case shows that a Millman and Yarnold had been observed in a bar at 11.30pm consuming light ale and stout outside of permitted hours but within the supper hour extension of the time. The presiding judge found the sandwiches ‘were so substantial, and assisted by the pickles and beetroot so as to justify that it was a table meal and not a mere snack from the bar’. This case was an early test of the 1964 Licensing Act which defined “table service” as:

”a meal eaten by a person seated at a table, or at a counter or other structure that serves the purpose of a table and is not used for the service of refreshments for consumption by persons not seated at a table or structure serving the purpose of a table.”

An even earlier 1955 case of Solomon v Green stated sandwiches and sausages on sticks were found to constitute a meal too.

The government guidelines do not cite the cases above and simply state that a substantial meal is:

‘is such as might be expected to be served as the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at either such meal’.

The conditions and what you can do in the three tiers can be found here

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