So if you are considering taking on another pub to expand your business, here are a few important licensing aspects to consider:
- Make checks to ensure that the holder of the premises licence is still solvent. If an individual premises licence holder is made bankrupt or becomes incapacitated or dies, the licence will lapse immediately. This is also the case where a company holding a premises licence becomes insolvent. There is a 28-day time-frame to transfer the licence to effectively reinstate it, however, if the transfer is not submitted within this time-frame the licence cannot be reinstated and a new premises licence application would be necessary.
- It is important to carry out due diligence checks on the premises you are buying. Ideally, you should speak with the main authorities (licensing, the police and environmental health) to establish the history of the premises, whether there have been any issues or complaints that you are likely to inherit and that the licence is still active. If any annual fees are outstanding, you would need to pay these before operating the premises as the licence is likely to have been suspended.
- When preparing to transfer the licence, you will usually need to seek the consent of the current premises licence holder and they will need to complete a consent form. If
the premises licence is held by an individual or in joint names, the consent of the individuals is required. If the premises licence is held by a company, a director or company secretary would need to sign the consent form.
- If you intend to offer gaming machines within the premises and the premises currently benefits from a licensed premises gaming machine permit for three or more machines, you will need to ensure that you transfer the permit at the same time as transferring the premises licence. If you do not transfer the permit at the same time as the premises licence, it will cease to have effect and you will need to apply for a new permit. Where the premises has the benefit of a notification for one or two machines, you will need to submit a new notification and pay the relevant fee as there is no facility to transfer a notification.
- Buying a licensed premises can be a huge investment, so it goes without saying that you should seek legal advice to ensure everything is in order on any potential investment.