Films or video recordings that are played to the public or for private gain generally have to be covered by either a premises licence from the local council or a temporary event notice. Some exclusions do apply, such as exhibitions or promotional material.

The Council will automatically impose a condition that any film shown must be rated by the British Board of Film Classification or by the Council. This means that you will need to make sure that there is some system in place to prevent children gaining admission to see films or videos that are rated above their age.

Current film ratings and their descriptions provided by the BBFC are :

U – A ‘U’ film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over. U films should be set within a positive moral framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.

PG – ‘PG’ Parental Guidance – General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. Unaccompanied children of any age may watch. A ‘PG’ film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older. However, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger or more sensitive children.

12A – Suitable for 12 years and over. No-one younger than 12 may see a ‘12A’ film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. No-one younger than 12 may rent or buy a ‘12’ rated video or DVD. Responsibility for allowing under-12s to view lies with the accompanying or supervising adult

15 – Suitable only for 15 years and over. No-one younger than 15 may see a ‘15’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a ‘15’ rated video or DVD.

18 – Suitable only for adults. No-one younger than 18 may see an ‘18’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an ‘18’ rated video.

R18 – To be shown only in specially licensed cinemas, or supplied only in licensed sex shops, and to adults of not less than 18 years. The ‘R18’ category is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit works of consenting sex between adults. Films may only be shown to adults in specially licensed cinemas, and videos may be supplied to adults only in licensed sex shops. ‘R18’ videos may not be supplied by mail order.
In some cases, it is possible for an application to be made to the Council to change a BBFC rating or to allow a film to be shown on a particular occasion without its usual rating requirement. We have experience of such applications as well as conducting film ratings. For more details, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our solicitors also specialise in obtaining premises licences for cinemas, defending reviews or enforcement action. Our application service can cover everything from preparing plans to drafting the application, submitting it to the various agencies that are required to be given a copy, making arrangements for the statutory notice in the press and representing you on any hearing that might be required in front on the Council’s Licensing Committee. We can also represent you on appeals if the Council should not make the decision that you want.