Licensing: time is running out to renew many personal licences in Scotland

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Are you a personal licence holder in connection with the sale of alcohol in Scotland under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act)?  Was your licence granted in the lead-up to the 2005 Act coming into force and therefore with effect from 1 September 2009?  If so, if you have not already applied to have your licence renewed, you must act now

In terms of the 2005 Act, personal licences are granted for a period of 10 years.  As such, if you obtained a personal licence prior to the "big bang" when the 2005 Act came into force on 1 September 2009, your licence will be due for renewal by 31 August 2019.   However, in terms of the legislation, the deadline for lodging the renewal application is 31 May 2019 – a mere four weeks away.

Not only must you apply to have your licence renewed, you must also have undergone your five-yearly refresher training. 

At the time of writing, figures reported in the licensed trade press show that three in four personal licence holders whose licences are due to expire on 31 August 2019 have not yet applied for a renewal.  In some areas, as little as 12% of personal licence holders have applied.

In the event that your application for renewal is not processed by 31 August 2019, your licence will fall.  The only option would then be to apply for an entirely new licence which could take weeks and, further, may be subject to a board hearing for determination.  Please note, although a renewal application may be submitted before the deadline of 31 May, the licence renewal itself may not be processed by 31 August 2019, given the volume of renewal applications expected. This could also result in the licence falling.  An application should, therefore, be made at the earliest opportunity.  As matters currently stand, there is no mechanism for a personal licence to continue following 1 September if the board has simply not had time to process the application.  As such, waiting until the last minute is really not an option.  

If you are a designated premises manager (DPM), in terms of a premises licence (i.e. the person with day-to-day responsibility for running the premises), you will not be able to continue to be so from 1 September 2019 if your licence has not been renewed.  While it is possible to preserve the premises licence by serving seven days' notice to the licensing board (which will result in a window of six weeks during which another DPM can be appointed and alcohol can continue to be sold), if another DPM is not appointed within six weeks, the premises will no longer be entitled to sell alcohol.  The situation can only be remedied by a new DPM with a valid personal licence being appointed.  This could be catastrophic for trade, especially if your business does not employ anyone else who can take on the role.

The date of grant of your personal licence will appear on the licence if you are unsure when your renewal is due. 

Please note, even if your licence was granted after 1 September 2009, you are still subject to a 10-year renewal period and a renewal must be made no later than three months prior to the renewal date.  You can apply any time up to a year before the renewal date.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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