Legal Guides

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Licences: Do you need one? Do you know how to get one?

The Licensing Act 2003 has had a dramatic effect on the control and administration of liquor licensing for all premises selling or supplying alcohol, providing regulated entertainment and late night refreshment in England and Wales. In cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Sheffield, Leeds and Bristol, as well as many major towns this has led not to the “light touch” approach envisaged by the Government to well run licensed premises, but a more regulated and proactive control of them.

The main features of the Licensing Act are as follows:

  1. transfer of administration and control of premises licensed to sell or supply alcohol to local authorities from the Magistrates’ Courts
  2. a single premises licence authorising all forms of licensable activities
  3. a dual system of personal and premises licences for alcohol premises
  4. abolition of ‘permitted hours’ – each operator can apply to open the hours they wish
  5. new national licensing regulations and local guidance regarding applications for new licences
  6. regulated entertainment and late night refreshment covered by the new Act

Do I need a personal licence?

You will need a personal licence under the new Act if you want to sell alcohol. If you are to be the designated premises supervisor (DPS) named on the premises licence, you must hold a valid personal licence. All sales of alcohol must be authorised by a personal licence holder so it would be useful to have more than one personal licence holder working at a particular site. However, it is not a legal requirement for a personal licence holder always to be present when alcohol is sold.

How do I apply for a personal licence?

The application to the local authority requires the following:

  1. completed application in the specified form
  2. basic criminal record check
  3. a photograph which has been certified to confirm your identity
  4. a statement of any relevant offences (if applicable)
  5. an accredited qualification (the NCPLH national certificate for personal licence holders is the only accredited qualification at present)
  6. the fee

You will need to send a copy of the application and all the documents to the police within 48 hours.

The local authority must grant your personal licence if there are no objections by the police. The police can object if you have been convicted of a relevant offence or if they think that the granting of a licence will undermine the crime prevention objective. If you are refused a personal licence you can appeal to the Magistrates. The local authority must deal with your application within three months of the receipt of the application.

What is a premises licence?

There is no difference between a premises licence in London and one in Brighton, the application forms and premises licence are the same. There will be local policies, however, relevant to how flexible licensed premises can operate.

A premises licence is required if an outlet wishes to carry out one or more licensable activities. These activities include the sale of alcohol, the supply of alcohol by a club, regulated entertainment, performance of plays, etc, cinema shows and the provision of late night refreshment (ie the sale of hot food or hot drink between 11 pm and 5 am).

How do I apply for a new premises licence?

You have to provide the following:

  1. a completed application on a specified form
  2. a plan of the premises
  3. an ‘operating schedule’
  4. details of the person who will be in ‘day to day control’ of the premises (the Designated Premises Supervisor) where alcohol sales are involved
  5. the fee

You will also need to send the completed application to other authorities and advertise the application. The application needs to be made to the local authority where the premises are located. For example, licensed premises in Reading would apply to Reading Borough Council.

Author: Phil Davies

Holmes & Hills Solicitors offer specialist advice on licensing and can assist in applying for licenses.

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Holmes & Hills Solicitors directly.

Published on 30th January 2015
(Last updated 7th May 2021)