Alcohol licensing and the law


The alcohol licensing law is the legal framework which was put in place to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol. Alcohol licensing law differs within the UK, as different rules and regulations operate in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

The sale of alcohol in the UK is only permitted with a licence. The business must have a valid licence to sell alcohol, and the person responsible for the premises must also have a personal licence. In England, there are two types of licence a premises might have, and those are commonly referred to as on-licence and off-licence. An off-licence means that the business is permitted to sell alcohol for consumption in a place other than the premises. An on-licence means the vendor can sell alcohol and the alcohol may be consumed there and then. Corner shops usually hold off-licences, whilst restaurants, bars and clubs must hold on-licences. These distinctions, however, are not governed by the Licensing Act 2003 and vary in applicability in Northern Ireland and in Scotland.

If you are interested in obtaining an alcohol licence it would help to speak to a local solicitor who specialises in licence applications. Each application may differ in its content, and may depend on the location of the establishment. Often local authorities will have to balance the interests of local businesses against the interests of the residents in the area, and so an application for a licence should be tailored to its own circumstances.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on alcohol licensing laws, Caven can put you in touch with a local alcohol licensing solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local alcohol licensing solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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