Trade must know what’s required to renew licences
By Dave Hunter
LICENSING lawyers have implored the Scottish Government to draw up plans for renewing personal licences in order to avoid “a last minute panic” in 2019.
The first set of personal licences issued under the Licensing (Scotland) Act will expire in September 2019.
Although the deadline is still some time away, lawyers told SLTN they are concerned there could be a repeat of the refresher training “shambles” in 2014, when thousands of personal licences were revoked after licence holders failed to complete refresher training and notify their licensing boards within the allotted time.
Archie Maciver of legal firm Brunton Miller said it is “absolutely imperative that everybody knows what is going to be required when it comes to ‘renewing’ these licences”.
“Will the applicant have to simply undergo further refresher training or will they have to undergo a ‘full’ training course?” said Maciver.
“The five year ‘refresher’ [deadline] must not be repeated. It was a complete and utter shambles and we cannot go through that process again.
“It is vital, therefore, that the government states what is going to be required for the renewal process and ensures that the appropriate reminders and intimation of requirements are published well in advance of the relevant renewal date.”
Maciver’s views were echoed by John Grant of Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie, who said: “This is an important issue and one which the government should take time to address early in order to avoid a last minute panic to ensure that a training course can be completed.
“There seems to be a significant degree of uncertainty within the industry as to what may be required and so further detail is necessary.”
Andrew Hunter, of Harper Macleod, called on Holyrood to provide information in the course of next year.
He said: “I think communication is important but equally [it’s] the timing of it.
“It should be done in 2018 and not too late for licence holders to get organised.”
The expiration of the current licences also provides an opportunity to address the training required of licence holders, according to licensing lawyer Janet Hood.
“Make the training relevant – people working in premises do not need to know the intricacies of making applications for new licences, variations or transfers,” said Hood.
“They do not need to be au fait with government policy, they need to understand how to carry out their role in a compliant manner.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it is “mindful of the need to undertake detailed work with stakeholders in the run up to the ten year point for personal licences in September 2019”. “Going forward we intend to work closely with stakeholders to firm up and publicise arrangements ahead of the ten year point,” said the spokesman.