Government acts at last over mystery of licence renewals

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal licence, License

Licence renewals: What are the guidelines?
Licence renewals: What are the guidelines?
On 13 November at the Institute of Licensing’s national training event in Birmingham, the Home Office at long last provided some further “guidance” on the renewal of personal licences.

The Government has long trumpeted the fact that personal licences will no longer need to be renewed, but with the first personal licences falling for renewal in February 2015 we are already in a position when people can apply to renew their personal licences; it being a requirement to renew between three months and one month of the expiry of the licence.

The Home Office spokeswoman, Anna Dawson, who it seems will have the lead on sorting out the personal licence renewal mystery, said that a revised renewal process will shortly be published which will simply involve the completion of a form without the need to provide any supporting documentation or a fee, and that “guidance” would be provided on the process and how it will work.

Fact-sheets

Not for the first time we find the Government acting in anything but a timely fashion when it comes to providing advice and assistance to licensees — I recall the revised guidance on the Live Music Act came out about a month after the Act came into effect.

As I write, two government ‘factsheets’ have been published by the Home Office, one for personal licence holders and one for licensing authorities.

Basically, the position is as follows:

  • The application form (yet to be published) will need to be sent to the licensing authority no earlier than three months and no later than one month of the expiry date of the personal licence;
  • The only thing that must accompany the form is the original personal licence, unless either the licensing authority states that a copy is acceptable, or there is a reason why the personal licence cannot practicably be sent (it is unclear whether both parts of the licence are required);
  • No fee is payable;
  • On the renewal form, any relevant offences will have to be dis-closed and, if the applicant for the renewal has relevant offences, the licensing authority must advise the police who may object to the renewal and a hearing may take place;
  • There is no requirement (which had previously been suggested) for the licensing authority to acknowledge receipt of the renewal application in order for it to be a valid application;
  • Applicants are encouraged to obtain a receipt, to prove the application has been lodged;
  • There appears to be no requirement for the licensing authority to reissue a new personal licence with the renewal date removed, or a renewal date for 2025, but rather to simply return the personal licence that had been sent with the application.

The Government has made it clear that it is possible to still renew licences that are currently falling due for renewal now on the existing form, but that will involve paying a fee, enclosing the original personal licence, a conviction disclosure and up to date photographs.

Confusion

While the position is much clearer than it was only a few days ago, there are still areas of confusion. As I mention above, it has not been made clear whether both parts of the licence (the paper and the photocard) are required, so will a photocopy of simply the card suffice? I suppose it will depend upon your local licensing authority.

This is not one of those issues for which any blame lies with the licensing authority — they, too, have their own factsheet to digest and will have to process urgent renewal applications without charging a fee.

Nor do I envy the police or licensing authorities in whose areas those renewed licences are granted — the only evidence of the holders ability to legally authorise the sale of alcohol may be a ‘read receipt’ from the council.

Christmas and New Year are busy times for licensees — the workload has just increased but it’s better than the confusion that previously reigned.

Related topics: Licensing law

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