Setting the training record straight

Confusion over refresher deadline could put businesses at risk

Personal licences are at risk if the training deadline is not met.
Personal licences are at risk if the training deadline is not met.

IN my last legal column, I outlined the dangers lying in wait for personal licence holders who fail to get to grips with the refresher training rules.
Job done – or so I thought.
But in the last few weeks it has become alarmingly clear that a number of common misunderstandings have created traps for the unwary which could lead to personal licences being revoked, with no further application possible in the next five years.
Those who follow the “advice” on some websites – and who depend on a personal licence for a living – could find themselves unemployed, so this is very serious stuff.
Let’s start with what Section 87(1) of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 actually says: “The holder of a personal licence must, no later than three months after the expiry of (a) the period of five years beginning with the date on which the licence holder’s licence was issued, and (b) each subsequent period of five years during which the licence has effect, produce to the licensing board which issued the licence evidence in the prescribed form of the licence holder’s having complied, during that period, with such requirements as to the training of personal licence holders as may be prescribed”.
There are two essential elements here.
Compliance with the training requirement must take place within the five-year period; and three months is allowed following the end of the five years for production of the training certificate to the licensing board.
But, disgracefully, there are a number of wholly inaccurate interpretations appearing on training websites.
Here’s a selection of the misinformation being put out to the trade:

• “Anyone who was issued with a personal licence on or before September 1, 2009 must achieve the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (Refresher) qualification by December 2014.” In fact, in such a case, compliance has to be effected by August 31, 2014.

• “At five years from the date of issue, the personal licence holder is obliged to undertake a refresher SCPLH. From this five-year point, the licence holder has up to three months in which to complete the refresher training and provide evidence (by means of certification) to the licensing board of completion.” This suggests that it’s safe to wait until the end of the five-year period – a step that would spell disaster; and, again, it’s wrongly suggested that the three-month period allowed for producing the training certificate provides a “period of grace” during which the training can be finished.

• “The refresher course must be done within five years of the Act commencing on the 1st September 2009.” The new Act came into force on September 1, 2009 and that date is only the starting point for the five-year period where the personal licence was issued on or before that date. So, if a personal licence was issued on, say, June 1, 2012, the five-year period allowed for compliance expires on May 31, 2017.
There are many excellent trainers who have a thorough understanding of licensing law but those responsible for propagating these fundamental errors – and thereby exposing businesses and their employees to considerable risks – ought to be thoroughly ashamed.
Finally, I have been asked on a number of occasions as to the method by which evidence of refresher training is to be submitted to the licensing board.
Since my last column was published, new regulations have been issued by the Scottish Government. Evidence of compliance consists of “the original or a copy of the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (Refresher) at SCQF Level 6”, which is to be submitted to the licensing board along with (1) the personal licence holder’s full name, address and date of birth; and (2) the personal licence number.
There’s no requirement to return the actual licence to the board for updating, but I’d expect some licensing boards to impose that requirement.
That would be a perfectly reasonable step because, as one LSO pointed out to me, it would be impossible upon examination of a personal licence to determine whether training was up-to-date.
Jack Cummins is one of Scotland’s leading licensing lawyers. Every month he writes on licensing law and answers readers’ questions in SLTN.