Action needed on PLH process

Licensing specialists repeat calls for immediate input from Holyrood

Action is needed on licence renewals

THE Scottish Government has been urged to take action on personal licence renewals in order to avoid a “tsunami” in 2019.

The first personal licences issued under the 2005 Licensing Act will be due for renewal in September 2019, with licensing lawyers and boards still in the dark on what will be required from them.

Speaking at last week’s SLLP Essential Licensing Update conference, Joanna Millar of Millar Campbell said: “Given the number of personal licences being renewed, I think we could be looking at a tsunami, to be honest.

“We’re coming to the stage where we really do need guidance and we really do need to be clear on what’s required.”

Millar said that, according to her reading of the law, personal licence holders may be required to complete two separate training courses and exams (for personal licence application and refresher training) in order to renew their licences, but the Scottish Government has so far not clarified this.

And she reiterated calls for Holyrood to follow Westminster’s example and scrap the renewal process altogether.

“There has been discussion in SLTN and some other publications about the English move to abolish the ten-year lifespan of the personal licence,” said Millar. “Certainly if the ten-year licence lifespan goes it means all we have to do at the five-year anniversary is produce refresher training, as we did previously, and it would alleviate quite a lot of the pressure.”

This was supported by conference host Jack Cummins of Hill Brown Licensing, who said removing the ten-year lifespan of personal licences would be a “silver bullet”.

“One wonders what is the point,” said Cummins. “Premises licences aren’t renewed, on the basis that any problems with premises licences that develop during their life can be dealt with through the review process. And the same thing is perfectly true in relation to personal licences.

“So abolishing the need for renewals would lift a huge weight off of the trade, off licensing lawyers and off councils. I think that’s something that should be seriously considered.”

The process of renewing personal licences could be further complicated by Westminster’s Immigration Act, aspects of which will impact on alcohol licensing.

Also speaking at the SLLP event, Mairi Millar, clerk to Glasgow licensing board, said draft guidance relating to the immigration laws requires “all individuals applying for a premises licence or a personal licence to submit evidence of their right to work in the UK”.

“If all those personal licence holders have to produce evidence of their right to work, we’re going to be looking at thousands of passport and biometric residence permits, birth certificates, in that really small time frame,” said Millar.

“I honestly, at this stage, I don’t see how we’re going to be able to do all that and continue with all of the other day to day business at the same time.”

Cummins described the Immigration Act as “a sleeping giant that is going to cause enormous problems, particularly when we come to PLH renewals”.

Other speakers at the event included councillor Stewart Hunter of Dundee licensing board and Andrew Hunter of legal firm Harper Macleod.