Act now to avoid the training trap

Operators must plan for refresher course, writes lawyer Audrey Junner

THOSE holding personal licences issued in 2008 would be justified in thinking that the five-year refresher training requirement kicks in this year.

The Act says personal licence holders must undertake refresher training no later than three months after the expiry of the period of five years from the date their personal licence was issued, not the date it was granted.
However the Scottish Government have other plans.
Following criticism fed in from a government-formed task group, the government is taking the pragmatic step of issuing guidance to licensing boards encouraging them to ignore the ‘issue’ date problem in the Act and instead treat September 1, 2009 as the relevant date for refresher training for all personal licences issued before then.
If your licence was issued on or before September 1, 2009 you must complete refresher training and produce your certificate to the relevant licensing board by December 1, 2014.

Audrey Junner is an associate at Hill Brown Licensing - SLTN

This is a most welcome step, albeit achieved in a somewhat unorthodox fashion.
If, however, you hold a personal licence issued any time after September 1, 2009 the date problem remains, unless the guidance provides otherwise or the relevant section of the Act is amended.
As things stand, your refresher training must still be completed within five years of the date your personal licence was issued, not granted. The date stated on a personal licence is not the relevant date for training purposes.
It is therefore essential that all personal licence holders take early steps to ascertain the correct date, either through their own records or by contacting their licensing board.
A failure to comply with the refresher training requirement will lead to automatic revocation of the licence. Where personal licence holders are also premises managers it is not difficult to envisage the carnage that could cause.
Personal licence holders should find some comfort in the fact that licensing boards have the unenviable task of providing written notifications of the training requirement three months in advance of the five-year period to all licence holders.
Licence holders should not, however, assume they will receive a letter as it remains fully their responsibility to check. Any failure to comply with the refresher training requirement, regardless of the circumstances, could result in revocation action being taken.
To ensure notifications are received personal licence holders should make sure that their address details held by the board are correct.
The refresher training itself is still in development but People 1st, the sector skills council, has been working with the government to update the personal licence qualification and devise the refresher course. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks confirming the content and specification. It is expected that the course will last a minimum of three hours and conclude with an hour long multiple choice exam.
My advice would be to start preparing now. From a financial planning perspective the costs involved with refresher training may not have been considered previously, and funds will have to be set aside for what could be significant outlays over the next couple of years. I would also expect courses to be very busy especially, in the immediate run up to December 1,2014 and places could be limited.
Leaving it too late to book a course could realistically see the closure of a premises if the consequence is a revoked personal licence.
Operators and licence holders should act soon to avoid being caught in a training trap.
• Audrey Junner is an associate at Hill Brown Licensing.