UK: Calling Time on the Old Licensing Regime

Last Updated: 15 June 2004
Article by Hana Ferraris

April 2004 saw the start of a new single scheme for licensing premises to sell alcohol, provide public entertainment and/or provide late night refreshment. The scheme is the result of the Licensing Act 2003, which also introduces a new system of personal licences that allow holders to sell or serve alcohol for consumption on or off licensed premises1.

Local Authorities are currently preparing for applications under the new regime and application forms, or at least detailed information about how to apply, should be readily available. The deadline for transferring existing licences is expected to be sometime in May 2005.

Hana Ferraris outlines the key aspects of the new system.

Personal Licence

A personal licence will be needed for anyone who supervises the sale of alcohol on any premises. To apply, an individual would have to be over 18, have no criminal convictions and possess an accredited qualification. The accreditation syllabus and details of qualification providers can be found at although existing liquor licence holders will be deemed to have already satisfied this accreditation.

Applications for licenses will be considered and thereby granted or refused by a Local Authority Licensing Committee. However, applications can also be objected to by the police on the grounds of crime prevention. If refused, the applicant is able to appeal to the Crown Court.

A key advantage of the personal licence is that it can be transferred to different premises. On arrival at the new premises, the licence holder simply has to register with the local police and licensing authority in order to maintain his/her licence.

Personal licences are valid for ten years at the outset and, subsequently, a statutory presumption in favour of renewal will apply. However, if the licence holder is absent from the trade for more than five years, the licence becomes invalid and re-qualification is required. Also, if the holder is convicted of certain classes of criminal offence, the licence will become forfeit.

The total cost of a personal licence, which covers the cost of a training course and the fee, will be in the region of £180.

Premises Licence

The new premises licence is valid for the life of a business and provides permission for any combination of:

  • Sale or supply of alcohol
  • Public entertainment (including theatre and cinema)
  • Non-alcoholic late night refreshment
  • Permission to have children on the premises

Applications for premises licences need to be submitted with a proposed operating plan that indicates how the premises will be run and to what types of activities it will apply. The plan should also include details of the measures proposed to prevent crime and disorder. Detailed information on submitting a premises license application can also be found at or on your Local Authority website.

Once the application is submitted, all local residents and businesses, the police, the fire authority, the HSE and local representatives will be notified. Provided none of these parties object, a licence is likely to be granted without a hearing. If there are objections, the burden will be on the objecting party to substantiate their objections. If the application is refused, a condition made, or where a sanction is imposed on the licence holder, it will be possible to appeal to the Crown Court.

The estimated fees will be divided into bands between £100 and £500. This will be paid as a one-off fee, although it appears that an annual charge of between £50 and £150 will be set by your local licensing authority to cover inspection and enforcement.

Temporary Event Notice

A temporary event is one which does not exceed 96 hours and where a maximum of 500 people attend at any one time. A personal licence holder can apply for this type of notice up to 50 times a year. Everyone else can only apply up to 5 times a year.2

A temporary event notice fee is expected to be about £20.

Occasional Permission to Sell Alcohol

Individuals who do not hold personal licences but who wish to sell alcohol for a temporary period from temporary premises or public places will have to notify the police of the venue 5 days in advance of the event taking place. If satisfied, the police will issue a letter confirming they have no objection to the proposal. This type of licensing arrangement is limited to 25 events per individual in any one year.

If you would like to find out more about the new licensing regime, please visit Some helpful examples and diagrams can also be found at

Pictons undertakes licensing applications and will act for both the premises occupiers and individuals.




© Pictons Solicitors LLP 2004

Pictons Solicitors LLP is regulated by the Law Society. The information in this article is correct at the time of publication in June 2004. Every care is taken in the preparation of this article. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in it. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.

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