Alcohol licensing


By Rosie Given

Alcohol licensing: The basics

It is mandatory for all business owners selling or serving alcohol to the general public to hold an approved alcohol license under the recently revised Licensing Act 2003. Most will require a premises license which can come in two forms: an on-license and an off-license. An on-license is required for premises which are serving alcohol to be consumed within the establishment at the point of sale - commonly bars, pubs and clubs. Off-licenses are required to sell alcohol to be consumed outside of the place of sale, for example, a newsagent or supermarket. Those selling the alcohol must also hold a personal license to permit them to sell it on their premises.

What if I only buy and sell a small amount?

The biggest misconception is that alcohol licenses are for large businesses only; for example, large entertainment and eating establishments planning to sell alcohol to consume on site. In fact, due to the tightening of licensing laws, you will need an alcohol license even if you are planning to sell alcohol from a very small business such as from your own home. If you sell and distribute food, perhaps home-cooked meals, from your home and plan to distribute alcohol alongside it then you will need to enquire with an alcohol licensing solicitor to ensure that you are properly licensed.

Alcohol licensing solicitors can help with all aspects of the licensing process from filing the initial license application to any later disputes or prosecutions relating to the license. Unfortunately the majority of people I speak to require help with the latter and penalties can be fines of up to £20,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment. Getting early legal advice from a licensing specialist is essential to the success and longevity of your business. Licensing solicitors work all over the country and many can file the application for you on your behalf, dealing with you simply via phone and email to save you time, hassle and money.

Rosie Given is one of Caven’s most knowledgeable case handlers with extensive experience in this matter from dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis.

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