‘Fatally flawed’ Act must be changed

With a backlog of personal licence renewals expected, make sure you have more than one PLH on your staff, says lawyer Janet Hood

janet-hood-licensing-lawyer
Licensing lawyer Janet Hood

‘LET’S make it really difficult’, said the Scottish Government with the approval of MSP Ash Denholm.

Part one: personal licences issued on or before September 1, 2009 with an expiry date of August 31, 2019

The process

The renewal application had to be made to the issuing licensing board by May 31, 2019 accompanied by the second five-year refresher training pass certificate at this time and, of course, the personal licence, which has details of your prior training in annex A.

If your personal licence has an expiry date of August 31, 2019 you will not have a personal licence after this date unless you have made the application for renewal by May 31, 2019.

If you were unable to take your second five-year refresher training before May 31, 2019 you have until August 31, 2019 to take the course.

Given you pass the exam, that refresher training pass certificate must be submitted to the issuing licensing board by November 30, 2019.

Licensing boards have until February 29, 2020 to issue renewed personal licences ONLY for those personal licences which were issued on September 1, 2009.

Confused?

Not surprisingly so are we all. And as if this is not bad enough…

Part two:  personal licences issued on September 2, 2009

The process

If your personal licence was issued on September 2, 2009, the issuing licensing boards will have to have granted the renewed personal licences by September 1, 2019 or those personal licences will expire.

Boards do not have any extra time to deal with them.

So some real juggling needs to be done by overworked staff in licensing boards.

Some may slip through the net, so whether or not you make your application on time your personal licence WILL expire on the expiry date.

Should your personal licence expire you will NOT be able to be a premises manager, train your staff on the two hours compulsory training or be able to operate as a personal licence holder between 1am and 5am in late night premises.

So make sure you have a spare personal licence holder on your staff or get one trained up now to step in if your personal licence is going to expire.

If you have missed the application date you will have to undertake a full day’s Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders training course and apply for a new personal licence.

Surely the Scottish Government must now listen to you – the trade – employing over 300,000 people in Scotland; to LSOs, licensing board members; clerks; police; and, dare I say it, to licensing lawyers.

We have all been begging the Scottish Government to change the law so that applications can be made up until the expiry date and to ensure personal licences endure until boards can decide whether or not to grant the renewal.

This is what happens with all other licences so why was the decision made to make this so complex?

Could it be because you are selling alcohol and this is a cynical way to reduce alcohol sales?

The alternative is to scrap renewals altogether as happened in England.

Chaos has not ensued south of the border.

The Scottish Government brought back the fit and proper test in 2015 so that personal licences can be refused or revoked if boards decide that, having regard to the licensing objectives, the personal licence holder is not a fit and proper person.

Surely that is all we need to ensure personal licence holders are doing their job properly without the requirement to undertake costly renewals and training.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 is fatally flawed; it is, in some aspects, incomprehensible.

Let’s lobby our MSPs for change.

Janet Hood of Janet Hood Training & Consulting Ltd is a solicitor and accredited as a specialist in licensing law.

Personal licences at a glance

  • The expiry date is on the front page of your personal licence.
  • The renewal application must be made, at the latest, three months before the expiry date.
  • The renewal application can be accompanied by the second five-year refresher training certificate OR training has to be taken and passed by the expiry date.
  • The pass certificate has to be submitted to the board three months after the expiry date.
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