Licensees are being forced to negotiate a minefield of red tape and bureaucracy as councils continue to conjure up different interpretations of the new Licensing Act.
Lawyers revealed this week alterations consent, temporary event notices (TEN) and licence transfers are just three areas where local authorities are trying to flex their muscles.
They say intransigent authorities cause long delays and heavy extra costs for hosts and pub operators.
One licensee was told an application to extend a bar counter by 1ft would mean him applying for a variationCraig Baylis, of London law firm Paisners.
The trade is paying the penalty for what many believe is unclear guidance published as a supplement to the main Act.
MA legal expert Peter Coulson said some councils were treating minor variation applications as major changes and demanding hosts submit entirely new licence applications.
He added one licensee was being forced to make a new licence application to include a storeroom as part of his trading area which would cost him hundreds of pounds.
"I am lobbying the DCMS to change the way hosts are asked to apply for variations for the most trivial changes," he said.
Another lawyer, Craig Baylis, of London firm Paisners, said one of his clients was told an application to extend a bar counter by 1ft would mean him applying for a variation. Baylis added he was running into trouble with councils obstructing applications for TENs.
"Applying for an extension under the old system was admirably simple but the new system involves a raft of red tape, obstacles and delays and must be addressed," he said.