Trade demands further clarity on personal licence renewal guidance

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Home office License

The Home Office said it could not provide a date for when the new application form will be available
The Home Office said it could not provide a date for when the new application form will be available
Senior industry figures have raised concerns about the lack of detail in the long-awaited Government guidance outlining how publicans can renew personal licences.

Last week, the Home Office published a fact sheet on the renewal process, confirming publicans with personal licences expiring early next year will need to complete and submit a new simplified application form to their local authority. It is understood the total number of affected licensees is in the low thousands.

The Home Office said it could not provide a date for when the new application form will be available as parliament still needs to approve the changes to the secondary legislation, saying only it would be published in “due course”. Publicans can still renew their licence using the existing form, but this will involve paying a fee.

It added that holders will need to enclose their existing licence or a copy of their existing licence, depending on the rules from their local authority.

The guidance comes after a prolonged period with licensees unsure how to proceed because of delays with the Deregulation Bill, which removes the requirement to renew personal licences, coming into force.

Licensing authorities have been told to acknowledge receipt of the application, but this is not required for it to be valid. This is because the Licensing Act 2003 outlines that where an application for renewal is pending and had not been determined before the original licence expires, the licence remains in effect.

Existing licence

Jonathan Smith, partner at licensing law firm Poppleston Allen, said the guidance did not make clear whether publicans will need to send both the paper and photocard parts of their licence and — if they send in a copy of the paper part — whether this has to be certified.

He said there is also lack of clarity around whether publicans will need to keep proof of any acknowledgment given by councils.

“A police officer might say, in a few months’ time, ‘your licence expired before the Deregulation Bill came in, have you got evidence that you did renew it?’ Then you might need to produce your acknowledgment from the council,” he said.

“I think local authorities will ask for the original licence, because that is what the Licensing Act says.”

'Additional problems'

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR, said that if publicans were required to submit the original licence, they could face additional problems, particularly if they experience “a sudden, unexpected inspection”. She called for clarification and reassurance licence holders will not be subjected to further bureaucracy.

The Home Office said the House of Lords report stage of the Deregulation Bill will be in the new year but could not give an exact date as to when it will come into effect. The department has said the bill will receive Royal Assent no earlier than spring 2015.

Related topics Licensing law

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