By Gillian McKenzie
‘PATCHWORK effect’ was a term used widely as the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 was drafted.
As proposals were consulted on and the legislation took shape, there was concern in the trade that passing more responsibility to licensing boards could lead to inconsistency across the country.
No one has said ‘I told you so’; but, since the legislation came into force in 2009, there’s been a number of examples of such inconsistencies, including situations where neighbouring licensing boards have adopted different approaches to operating hours.
More recently, boards have taken different approaches to the ways in which they require to be notified of completed refresher training – and in how they intend to deal with those who miss the deadlines.
It’s not just the different stances taken by boards that are cause for concern.
The legislation itself has been tweaked, amended and added to in various ways; there’s a raft of regulations (which, in my experience, are difficult enough to find, let alone interpret); and the Criminal Justice, Alcohol and forthcoming Air Weapons and Licensing Acts have each brought something new to the table.
Licensing lawyer Jack Cummins sums it up perfectly on page 14 of this issue when he describes it as a “dog’s dinner”.
Surely now it’s time for some consolidation and consistency.