The Licensing Act 2003 was the end product of a complete review and overhaul of the pre-existing licensing laws and procedures. It started back in the 1996 and the result was drastic. Having come into force on 24th November 2005 the licensing procedures, practices and laws changed many things. Most significant of these changes however was the increased powers to local authorities and to residents of local areas.

The Licensing Act 2003 is now the unified and single system relating to the regulation of licensable activities. Licensable activities are the sale and supply of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment and the provision of late night refreshment.

Divided into 9 separate parts the Licensing Act 2003 is designed to promote four objectives:

  1. The prevention of crime and disorder;
  2. Public safety;
  3. The prevention of public nuisance; and
  4. The protection of children from harm.

In promoting these objectives the Local Authority licenses premises through the use of personal licences, premises licences, temporary event notices (TEN) and club premises certificates.

A local authority is required to publish a licensing policy at least every five years following a meaningful consultation process. You should always refer to this policy when operating and considering any form of dealing with the local authority in relation to a licence.

What is a personal licence?

A personal licence is required by any person who wishes to be authorised to sell or supply alcohol. It is also required if you want to authorise someone else to do the same and this applies to consumption on or off premises.

To be eligible for a personal licence you must be at least 18 years old, be free of relevant convictions and possess a recognised licensing qualification.

Many people think that having a conviction is an automatic bar – it is not. If you do have a conviction of relevance the licensing authority MUST grant a personal licence unless it believes that doing so would undermine the objective of preventing crime.

Once your personal licence is granted it is valid for 10 years and is renewable like any other licence.

Licensing Defence Barrister represent many people in applying for their licence by advising on strategy in making the application and have been successful in appealing decision to refuse to grant person licences. Get advice if you are unsure.

What is a premises licence?

A premises licence is exactly what you might think. Rather than relate to the individual it relates to the venue. A premises licence is required for a premises to carry out licensable activities (see above). The difference with a premises licence is that has effect until it is either surrendered by the person responsible or until it is revoked by the authority which granted it.

You will often find that premises licences attract far more attention and therefore representations from interested parties such as local residents and of course government departments and the emergency services. Even once granted the same persons can ask for a review of the licence i.e. ask for it to be reconsidered.

Most cases before sub-committees and the Courts concern applications by one party or another to review a licence. Generally these applications concern alleged breaches of conditions or a failure to promote the licensing objectives (or both).

What is a club premises certificate?

This is like the above but is specific to clubs. The grant of a club premises certificate allows a club to use the premises for “qualifying club activities”. The activities are the supply of alcohol to or on behalf of a club to a member, the same to a guest of a club member and the provision of regulated entertainment for members of the club or their guests.

Just like premises licences the same persons are able to make representations about any such application and indeed any proposed conditions.

What is a temporary event notice (TEN)?

Commonly referred to as TEN’s a temporary event notice is a one off grant to carry out an event provided fewer than 500 people are in attendance.

These are used in a huge array of circumstances and generally dealt with between the organiser of the event and the local authority.


Most people drastically underestimate the powers of the local authorities to review premises and licences should they deem them to be in breach of failing to promote the licensing objectives discussed above. Upon an application for a review of a licence the licensing authority, normally in a convened sub-committee, has the ability to suspend or revoke the licence or certificate, exclude specific licensable activities or modify the conditions in a licence.

This is nothing compared to their ability to apply to close a premises entirely and the range of offences and powers of investigation open.

Do not underestimate the options open to a licensing authority. Know your conditions and what they mean. Most importantly obtain expert advice from someone who actually deals regularly in the area.

At licensing defence barristers we have a small but expert team who have direct trade experience and deal with such matters on a daily basis. Our approach is always sot be practical to avoid difficulties with licensing authorities. Make contact if you have any questions.