Licensing Law


Licensing in the UK can be a complex and challenging process. With so many different types of licences available, and the regulatory landscape constantly changing, it is important to have expert legal advice on your side.

Richardson Lissack have a team of experienced solicitors who can help you with all aspects of the licensing process, from applying for a new licence to renewing an existing one. We can also advise you on compliance with the relevant licencing laws and regulations and represent you in any disputes that may arise.

What is licencing?

Licensing is a system of regulation that controls certain activities and businesses. Licences are typically issued by local authorities, but some are issued by government departments or agencies.

The Licensing Act 2003 is the main legislation governing the sale and supply of alcohol, late night refreshment, and regulated entertainment in England and Wales. The Act sets out three main types of licences:

  • Premises licences: These are required for any business or organisation that sells or supplies alcohol on a permanent basis.
  • Club premises certificates: These are required for qualifying members’ clubs (such as the Royal British Legion, working men’s clubs and rugby clubs) that sell or supply alcohol.
  • Personal licences: These are required for anyone who plans to sell or supply alcohol or authorise the sale or supply of alcohol.

There are many different types of licenses available in the UK, including:

  • Alcohol and entertainment licences
  • Gambling licences
  • Food and hygiene licences
  • Taxi and private hire licences
  • Animal welfare licences
  • Environmental licences
  • Building and construction licences

Why is licensing important?

Licensing is important for a number of reasons. First, it helps to protect the public from harm. For example, licensing laws ensure that food premises are clean and hygienic, and that alcohol is only served to responsible adults.

Second, licensing can help to promote fair competition. For example, taxi and private hire licences ensure that all operators meet the same standards.

How to apply for a licence

The process for applying for a licence varies depending on the type of licence you are applying for. However, there are some general steps that you will need to follow:

  • Identify the relevant licensing authority. This will usually be the local authority in the area where you operate or plan to operate.
  • Complete the application form. This will typically require you to provide information about your business, the premises where you will operate, and the activities that you will undertake.
  • Pay the application fee. This will vary depending on the type of licence you are applying for.
  • Submit your application form and supporting documentation to the licensing authority.
  • Attend a licensing hearing. This may be required for certain types of licences, such as alcohol and entertainment licences.

What happens after I have applied for a licence?

Once you have submitted your application form and supporting documentation, the licensing authority will review your application. They will also consult with other relevant bodies, such as the police and the fire service.

If the licensing authority is satisfied with your application, they will grant you a licence. However, they may also impose conditions on your licence, such as limiting the hours that you can operate or requiring you to have certain security measures in place.

If the licensing authority refuses to grant you a licence, they must give you a written decision explaining the reasons for their refusal. You can then appeal the decision to the magistrates’ court.

Renewing your licence

Most licences need to be renewed on a regular basis. The renewal process is typically similar to the application process, but you may not need to attend a licensing hearing.

Compliance with licensing laws and regulations

Once you have been granted a licence, you must comply with all of the relevant licensing laws and regulations. This includes paying any licence fees and meeting any conditions that have been imposed on your licence.

If you fail to comply with the licensing laws and regulations, you may be prosecuted and could have your licence revoked.


If you have a dispute with the licensing authority, or if you are unhappy with the decision of a licensing hearing, you may be able to appeal to the magistrates’ court.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about licensing law in the UK:

  • The Licensing Act applies to all businesses and organisations, regardless of size or location.
  • There are a number of exemptions from the Act, but these are limited.
  • The Act is enforced by the police and local authorities.
  • If you breach the Licensing Act, you could face a fine or imprisonment.

How can a solicitor help?

A solicitor can help you with all aspects of the licensing process, from applying for a new licence to renewing an existing one. They can also advise you on compliance with the relevant licensing laws and regulations and represent you in any disputes that may arise.

If you are considering applying for a licence, or if you have any questions about the licensing process, you should seek advice from a solicitor.

Here are some specific examples of how a solicitor can help you:

  • Advise you on the best type of licence for your business.
  • Help you to complete the application form and supporting documentation.
  • Represent you at a licensing hearing.
  • Advise you on compliance with the relevant licensing laws and regulations.
  • Represent you in any disputes that may arise with the licensing authority.

How can Richardson Lissack help?

If you have any questions about licensing in the UK, or if you need help with the licensing process, please contact us.

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