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About Licensing Defence Barristers

What Licensing Defence Barristers do

Licensing Defence Barristers are a small group of select specialist licensing barristers dealing with every aspect of licensing law.

Our licensing barristers will advise and assist on proper pre-application strategies, drafting applications for a licence, appropriate handling of objections, full negotiations with the relevant authorities and preparation for hearings including the sub-committees. Our lead barrister is a personal licence holder and SIA regulated himself with a wealth of experience in the industry. Therefore the advice and representation is far more than academic learning.

All our licensing defence barristers will also represent applicants at the sub-committee hearings and at all other hearings. We will make sure you and your case are properly prepared to maximise your chances of success.

Licensing Defence Barristers regularly represent those facing a review. We advise on how to approach the review and we will draft the necessary paperwork/application. Our focus however is on advising on overall strategy and the best way to present your case. Clearly the start of this will be making sure the application is as strong as it can be. However our experience is unparalleled in representation at any hearing.

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Stephen McCaffrey – Licensing & Regulatory Barrister

Profile Summary

Stephen’s practice covers all areas of licensing including that listed below:

Personal licenses, Premises licences, construction of operating schedules, application for designates premises supervisors (DPS), dealing with representations from all relevant parties, advising on conditions, variation of premises licence, reviews of premises licence and transfer of premises licence, closure orders, club premises certificates, temporary event notices and all aspect of investigation and interview relating to potential prosecutions.

Stephen represents from prior application stage, through sub-committee and if necessary on appeal to any court.

Principally they do the following 5 things for their clients

Pre-action/application advice – assistance with applications, plans etc. and sub-committee stages

I will help with advice pre-application to make sure the application is submitted in as strong a form as it can be. Many refusals happen because the application was not approached correctly. This involves strategic advice on how to approach the Licensing Authority and can save a fortune in appeals and duplicate work later on. This comes from experience of managing my own premises and ten years of seeing where and why applications fail but only being instructed later on to put them right on appeal.

I regularly represent licence holders at sub-committee stage to make sure the best possible arguments are advanced to support the application and deal with objections to the application.

Unwanted conditions or stipulations

I advise many licence holders on how to deal with conditions or stipulations they do not want even though they have been successful in getting the licence in the first place.

Sometimes conditions on a licence are unnecessary and can be challenged or appealed. I however spent most of time trying to negotiate them out through liaison with the Licensing Authority and use the appeal process as a last resort. I have achieved a great of success in this aspect for clients.


I represent large numbers of parties at review hearings. Often this is because of local objections or action by the Licensing Authority. This process is an incredibly difficult one fraught with pitfalls. It is vital to have representation which can offer proper strategic advice on how to approach this including practical assistance in dealing with local residents, other authorities or indeed the Licensing Authority itself.


Most of my clients contact me following a refusal of a licence (either on first application or on renewal) and I represent them on appeal – normally to the Magistrates’ Court. This is a difficult process which can have severe cost implications (especially outside of London) and as such seeking dependable and strong advice prior to the appeal is vital. It is vital to get advice from an experienced eye to challenge these decisions properly.


As above I represent many clients who have had their licence revoked on review either because of criminal conviction, health difficulties or some other reason. It is vital to get an experienced barrister who can identify the issues and offer practical advice as to how to present the case properly and coherently to offer the best chances of success.

Emergency situations including investigations

Alongside all of the above I have been called in to deal with emergency situations – in particular in relation to premises licences. Such situations can include where the police are involved investigating violence or other serious crime which occurred on the premises or during the course of employment. Urgent and immediate action can often stop matters progressing further including to a review or a closure order. I have my own emergency team which carries out investigations drawing on over 30 years of senior licensing and local authority experience. Closure orders.