A personal alcohol licence is required by anyone authorising the sale of alcohol from licensed premises.
The following guide looks at who can apply for a personal alcohol licence, how long it lasts, how much it costs and how, in some cases, your licence can be suspended, revoked or surrendered.
What is a personal alcohol licence?
A personal alcohol licence is a licence granted by a licensing authority to an individual, and authorises that individual to supply alcohol, or authorise the supply of alcohol, in accordance with the premises licence. This includes selling alcohol by retail, such as in a pub, restaurant, hotel or off-licence.
Further, with limited exceptions, all licensed premises must have an allocated personal licence holder known as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).
The DPS is usually the person who has been given day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business by the premises licence holder. As a personal licence holder, the DPS is also responsible for authorising the sale of alcohol.
Who can apply for a personal alcohol licence?
Under the Licensing Act 2003 you can apply for a personal alcohol licence, regardless of whether or not you are currently employed or have business interests associated with the use of the licence.
You will, however, need to satisfy the following criteria:
- You must be aged 18 or over.
- You must not have held a personal licence that has been forfeited within the last 5 years of the date of the application.
- You must, if subject to immigration control, be entitled to work in the UK and permitted to carry on a licensable activity. A licensable activity includes the sale and supply of alcohol, as well as the provision of regulated entertainment and late night refreshment.
- You must, in most cases, possess a relevant licensing qualification, such as the BIIAB Level 2 Personal Licence Holders Award or a similar accredited qualification.
Can I apply for a personal alcohol licence if I have a criminal record?
If you have an unspent conviction for a relevant or foreign offence, you will not be prohibited from making an application for a personal alcohol licence. That said, where the police object, your application may be rejected by the licensing authority on the basis of crime prevention grounds.
A relevant or foreign offence includes any offence under the 2003 Act, such as selling alcohol to anyone under the age of 18, as well as theft or other offences of dishonesty, or drug-related offences.
The licensing authority may also take into account any immigration offences, including where you have been ordered to pay a civil immigration penalty.
How long will my personal alcohol licence last?
The requirement to renew a personal licence was removed from the Licensing Act 2003 by the Deregulation Act 2015.
Accordingly, there is no longer any requirement to renew a personal alcohol licence and, once granted, your licence will now have effect indefinitely.
Any personal alcohol licence issued prior to 1 April 2015 will contain an expiry date, although any such date will no longer take effect.
Although a personal alcohol licence may be issued where any immigration permission to live and work in the UK is time-limited, when that permission expires the personal licence will also lapse. Similarly, a personal alcohol licence will lapse if any immigration permission is curtailed or revoked.
How much does it cost to apply for a personal alcohol licence?
When you make an application for a personal alcohol licence you will need to pay the licensing authority the appropriate fee. This is currently £37.
You will also need a Disclosure and Barring Service check as part of your application. This will cost you an additional £25-£26.
The DBS check (previously known as a CRB check) allows the licensing authority to check for any unspent convictions that may be relevant to your application.
What are my duties as a personal alcohol licence holder?
As the holder of a personal alcohol licence you are required by law to notify the licensing authority of any changes to your name or address. You are also under a duty to notify the authority of any convictions for relevant offences.
The courts are similarly obligated to inform the authority of such convictions, whether or not they have ordered the suspension or forfeiture of the licence.
When the licensing authority receives such notification, it will request that you produce the licence so that the necessary action can be taken.
Can my personal alcohol licence be revoked or suspended?
With effect from 6 April 2017, the Policing and Crime Act 2017 gives licensing authorities a discretionary power to revoke or suspend personal licences.
If you have been granted a personal alcohol licence and the licensing authority become aware that you have been convicted of a relevant or foreign offence, or you have been required to pay a civil immigration penalty, the authority may revoke the licence or suspend it for a period of up to 6 months.
This applies to convictions received, or civil immigration penalties that you have been required to pay, at any time before or after the licence was granted.
If declared forfeit, the licensing authority will retain your personal alcohol licence. Alternatively, it will endorse the details of your conviction on the licence, together with any period of suspension, and return the licence to you.
What can I do to prevent my licence from being revoked or suspended?
If the licencing authority are considering revoking or suspending your personal alcohol licence, it is required to notify you of its proposed decision, giving you 28 days to make any representations.
However, even where a court has already considered your personal alcohol licence, and decided against taking any action, this does not prevent the licensing authority from deciding to take action itself.
Licensing authorities have different aims to courts in that they must fulfil their statutory duty to promote the licensing objectives, and therefore the authority will need to reach its own decision about your licence.
In circumstances where the licensing authority decides not to revoke or suspend your personal alcohol licence, it must give notice to the police to allow further representations to be made having regard to the prevention of crime.
Where relevant, the Home Office enforcement division must also be invited to make any representations in relation to any immigration matters.
Do I have a right of appeal against the revocation or suspension of my licence?
If your personal alcohol licence is revoked or suspended by the licensing authority, you do have a right of appeal. This must be lodged within 21 days.
A decision to revoke or suspend your licence will not take effect until the end of the period allowed for appealing the decision, or if the decision is appealed against, until the appeal is disposed of.
Can I surrender my personal alcohol licence?
The provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 allow a personal licence holder to surrender their licence in circumstances where it is no longer required.
If you opt to surrender your personal alcohol licence, you must give the relevant licensing authority notice to that effect. This must be accompanied by the licence itself or, if not practicable, by a statement of reasons for the failure to do so.
Your personal alcohol licence will then lapse upon receipt of the notice of surrender by the licensing authority.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.