Focus Scotland: Licensing reform

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Related tags: Licensees, License

Scotland's new licensing regime might seem a long way off yet - but many licensees have already sorted out the training they need to make sure they...

Scotland's new licensing regime might seem a long way off yet - but many licensees have already sorted out the training they need to make sure they will be able to continue trading when the law comes into effect on September 1, 2009.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 requires all licensees to hold an approved qualification at the time they apply for their new premises licence - from now until January 2009.

And unlike the 2003 Licensing Act in England and Wales there are no grandfather rights for existing licensees. Everyone who wants to run a pub must pass the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH).

One pub company that's on the case is Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises (S&NPE), which has already been putting its lessees through courses to help them gain the new qualification.

S&NPE training manager Michael Soderquest warns that licensees need to sit the exam a month or two before their renewal date to allow time for re-sits.

"Many Scottish licensees aren't aware how imminently they need to obtain new qualifications to hold a personal licence and may be under the mistaken belief that they have until September 2009 to get this done," he says.

"In reality, they need to get their qualification at least a month before the renewal date if they want to be named as the premises manager on the application. Furthermore, the date for the premises licence application is dictated by the quarterly session at which they are due to renew - the first being March 2008, the last January 2009. Should licensees miss that date they run the risk of not actually getting a licence - if, for example, the licensing board believes there are too many licensed premises in the area.

"At S&NPE we are prioritising training according quarterly renewal deadlines and have already trained 50 people - even though details of the qualification were only made known in November," Michael adds.

"Our training timetable allows for taking the course, the BII processing the certificates and, should it be needed, time for resits. At present we have a success rate of over 98 per cent."

With different licensing boards applying different detailed policies, and some insisting that a personal licence-holder be present at all times, S&NPE is also encouraging licensees to give key staff SCPLH training. The new law demands, too, that licensees can show evidence that they have trained all of their barstaff in their responsibilities by September 2009.

• For more information on gaining the SCPLH go to www.bii.org/scotland

Related topics: Licensing law

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