Last week, the Government confirmed publicans with personal licences expiring early next year will need to complete and submit a short form to their local authority in order to renew.
It said there will be no application fee or need to supply photographs, criminal record details or existing licence, but local authorities must acknowledge receipt of the application for validity.
This is because the Deregulation Bill, which removes the requirement to renew the licences, will receive Royal Assent no earlier than Spring 2015. It is understood that the total number of affected licensees is in the low thousands.
The Home Office was unable to say when the application form and guidance on the revised process will be provided. However, a spokesman said the Government aims for the documents to be available in time for publicans whose licences are due for renewal early next year.
The Publican’s Morning Advertiser understands documents will have to be ready before 7 January, as forms will need to be lodged no more than three months and no less than one month before the licence expires.
The spokesman added that licensing authorities must acknowledge receipt of applications in writing. “We expect them to do this as soon as possible and this could be, for example, by setting up an automated email acknowledgment,” he said.
Jonathan Smith, partner at licensing specialists Poppleston Allen, raised concerns about why an acknowledgment was required, and questioned why proof of submission would not suffice. “If the council don’t like somebody or don’t like their venue and do not acknowledge receipt, that would mean their personal licence lapses,” he said.
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “Neither licensees nor local authorities wish to waste time processing applications. This can easily be solved by commitment from the Government that no renewal is necessary pending adoption of the Bill.”