UK: Personal Licence Renewals: A True Mission Impossible?

Last Updated: 21 November 2018
Article by Lynn Simpson

You don't need to be an aficionado of the Mission: Impossible franchise to know that the outcome of each film is actually Mission: Successful Against all the Odds.

Unfortunately, there is no such guarantee of a successful outcome when it comes to the looming crisis that seems certain to engulf personal licence renewals, and threatens to cause chaos for the licensed trade in Scotland. The complexity of the renewal process, compounded by the lack of clear guidance from the Scottish Government, means it's quite possible that thousands of licence holders, and Licensing Boards, are facing a real 'mission impossible', with no hope of Tom Cruise swooping in to save the day.

The need for a personal licence holder

Every premises licensed to sell alcohol in Scotland is required to have at least one fully-trained personal licence holder to act as the designated 'Premises Manager', without which alcohol cannot be sold. This requirement applies regardless of the nature of the premises. So whether the premises is a restaurant, pub, supermarket, or convenience store, it still requires a Premises Manager with a personal licence.

Personal licences, which last for 10 years, were introduced under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. The first batch of personal licences were issued around 1st September 2009, meaning that every one of those personal licences, estimated to number around 40,000, is due for renewal on 1st September 2019, failing which it will expire.

Trouble ahead

While the requirement for personal licences to be renewed every 10 years seems like a simple concept on the face of it, contradictory sections of the legislation mean navigating the renewal process is anything but straightforward. Just like every good action movie needs a few plot twists to create drama, the lack of clear, consistent guidance from the Scottish Government is building the tension towards what could be a catastrophe for Scotland's licensed trade.

The training requirement

The source of the confusion concerns the training that personal licence holders must undertake before they can apply for renewal of their licence. While the legislation appears to require only a full licensing qualification, with a refresher training certificate to be submitted at a later date, when the Scottish Government finally issued guidance in August 2018 (less than a month before the renewal application window opened) it indicated that only the refresher training certificate is required. However, the suggestion that the refresher training must be completed before submitting an application for renewal of a personal licence – in clear contradiction of the timescales specified in the legislation – merely added to the confusion.

Clinging on to the train(ing)

Apparently intent on playing the antagonist, the Scottish Ministers then "issued" an accreditation document (although this is not yet available on their website), the effect of which was to "clarify" that the refresher training certificate is not necessarily required before a personal licence renewal application can be submitted. Yet simultaneously Scottish Government social media channels continue to assert that refresher training is a mandatory requirement for any renewal application.

The plot thickens

Even if personal licence holders can overcome this confusion surrounding the administrative requirements of a renewal application, the plot takes another twist. The next obstacle for our protagonists is whether or not the already under-resourced Licensing Boards can actually cope with the volume of applications they are likely to receive. Personal Licence holders can submit applications to renew their licences until 31 May 2019 but, given the vast number of personal licence holders throughout Scotland due to renew their licences before next September, there is genuine concern that even if renewal applications are submitted before the deadline, Licensing Boards simply will not have the capacity to process and grant all of the renewals before the expiry date of 1 September 2019.

Doomsday scenario

If the Licensing Boards cannot process all of the renewals in time, any unrenewed licences will expire. Without a licence, these unrenewed personal licence holders will not be allowed to act as premises managers, so some businesses could find themselves prevented from selling alcohol unless they can find another personal licence holder (for obvious reasons likely to be in short supply), or until the individual has obtained a completely new personal licence, at significant cost and after even further delays.

A ticking time-bomb

The next few months are likely to be fraught unless or untiI clear guidance is forthcoming. The fallout from this current debacle won't be known until later next year, once the deadline approaches and in its aftermath. But the cliff-hanger is already here – if urgent action is not taken now, thousands of personal licence holders are at real risk of losing their licences. Even if they comply with the application requirements by the May deadline, there is no guarantee that the Licensing Boards are prepared for this, frankly, insurmountable task.

Licensing Boards and Personal Licence holders appear to be facing a true mission impossible, and the fear is that the hero will be too late to stop the credits rolling.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions