Department for Culture Media and Sport
The Licensing Act 2003 ("the Act") establishes a regime for the granting of personal licences to individuals to supply, or to authorise the supply of alcohol. The personal licence is separate from the licence which authorises the premises to be used for the supply of alcohol.
The licensing of individuals separately from the licensing of premises permits the movement of personal licence holders from one premises to another, allowing greater flexibility. It ends the previous outdated regime where publicans were tied by licences to the premises where they work. The Act also provides the police and licensing authorities with powers to deal with errant personal licence holders.
The personal licence relates only to the supply of alcohol under a premises licence. An individual will not require a personal licence for the other licensable activities, the provision of regulated entertainment or late night refreshment, or for the supply of alcohol under a club premises certificate or temporary event notice (although personal licence holders will be able to give 50 temporary event notices each year instead of the limit of 5 for non-personal licence holders).
A personal licence does not authorise its holder to supply alcohol anywhere, but only from establishments with a premises licence authorising the supply of alcohol in accordance with the premises licence. An individual may hold only one personal licence at any one time.
All premises licences authorising the supply of alcohol must have an identified personal licence holder known as the designated premises supervisor. This ensures there is always one specified individual who can be readily identified at a premises where a premises licence is in force. This person will usually be responsible for the day-to-day running of the premises. More than one individual at the licensed premises may hold a personal licence, although it is not necessary for all staff to be licensed. But, all supplies of alcohol under a premises licence must be made by or under the authority of a personal licence holder.
A personal licence is issued for ten years in the first instance and can be renewed on application for a further ten years if the licence holder has not been convicted of any relevant or foreign offence.
Applicants for personal licences will need to obtain an accredited qualification first. The aim of the qualification is to ensure that licence holders are aware of licensing law and the wider social responsibilities attached to the sale of alcohol. Personal licence qualification providers (PDF 58kb) are accredited by the Secretary of State.
Basic criminal record checks
Basic criminal record checks can be obtained from Disclosure Scotland. For further details call their helpline number 0870 609 6006, or their website http://www.disclosurescotland.co.uk/
Why do I need to apply for a personal licence?
The new system of personal licenses will allow holders to sell alcohol for consumption on or off any premises covered by a premises licence, similar to the way that a driving licence permits the driving of a car. It replaces the vague 'fit and proper person' tests with a need to possess a licensing qualification, in most cases, or otherwise to be a person of description set out in regulations made by the Secretary of State. The personal licence qualification is also expected to help raise professional standards across the hospitality industry.
What is the application process for a personal licence?
The applicant must submit an application form to the relevant licensing authority as provided for in Part 6 of the Act. The form will require certain details of the applicant to be provided, and applicants will be required to provide additional information and documents such as photographs as well as the fee for the application. They will be asked for details of any relevant or foreign offences for which they have been convicted. The licensing authority will then process the application.
Application forms are available separately
If it appears there are convictions for any relevant or foreign offences, the licensing authority will give a notice to the chief officer of police for the area. If the police make no objections within a 14 day period, the licence must be granted.
How do I obtain the necessary licensing qualification for a personal licence?
The syllabus for the personal licence qualifications was published in July 2003. The syllabus sets out the structure for any course that will result in the student obtaining a licensing qualification. Information for course providers on how to obtain Personal Licence Qualification Accreditation (PDF 92k) is also available.
Details of (PDF 58kb) is also available.
How long will a personal licence last?
A personal licence will last for ten years (subject to certain provisions of the Act regarding, for example, surrender and forfeiture of the licence). The licence can be renewed for further periods of ten years. The licence will be renewed if the licence holder has not been convicted of any relevant or foreign offence. If any such convictions have occurred since the licence was granted or renewed, the licensing authority must notify the chief officer of police for its area who may object to the renewal. The application form to renew a personal licence is available separately.
Do I have to have to hold a personal licence to work in a pub?
No one is required to hold a personal licence to work in any licensed premises other than the person who is the designated premises supervisor in respect of the premises licence, referred to above. However every supply of alcohol under the premises licence must be made or authorised by a person who holds a personal licence. For further information on the role of the designated premises supervisor, please see the section on premises licences.
Does there always have to be a personal licence holder/DPS on the premises in order to authorise a sale?
There is nothing in the 2003 Act that requires the DPS to be on the premises at all times when alcohol is being sold. What will be essential is that the DPS is contactable, particularly should problems arise with the premises.
The fact that every supply of alcohol must be authorised by a personal licence holder does not mean that only personal licence holders can make such sales or must be personally present at every transaction. A personal licence holder may, for example, authorise members of staff to make sales of alcohol during the course of an evening. It would be expected that the personal licence holder would be available on the premises, but may be absent at times when transactions take place. However, the personal licence holder would not be able to escape responsibility for the actions of those he authorises to make such sales. Ultimately, it would be for the courts to determine whether the frequency or length of a period of absence meant that the personal licence holder could not, in effect, have authorised the sale.
The Department has written to the Association of Convenience Stores on authorising sales of alcohol:
DCMS letter to the Association of Convenience Stores about the authorisation of sales (PDF 142kb)
Should a licensee employ more than one personal licence holder?
This is an operational decision for the premises licence holder. Holders of the premises licence may wish to have more than one personal licence holder in case a new DPS has to be appointed at short notice, and to allow greater flexibility in fulfilling the requirement for every alcohol sale to be made or authorised by a personal licence holder.
The aim of personal licence training is to ensure licence holders are aware of licensing law and the wider social responsibilities attached to the sale of alcohol. Some licensees may therefore consider it appropriate to have more than one personal licence holder in order to promote one or more of the four licensing objectives. It should be stressed, however, that a personal licence is not a qualification that is associated with business competency and other forms of training should be considered alongside the personal licence.
How much will I have to pay for a personal licence?
The fee for a personal licence application is £37, with the same fee on each renewal at ten yearly intervals.
How do I qualify for a personal licence?
To qualify for a personal licence the applicant must fulfil certain criteria. These are set out in the Act. The licensing authority must grant the licence if it appears that:
- the applicant is aged 18 or over
- no personal licence held by him has been forfeited within the period of five years before making the application
- he possesses an accredited licensing qualification, or is a person of prescribed description
- he has not been convicted of any relevant or foreign offence
If the applicant fulfils all these criteria, the licence will be granted. If any of the first three criteria are not met, the licensing authority must reject the application. The licensing authority must notify the chief officer of police for its area if it appears that an applicant has been convicted of any relevant or foreign offence, as set out above.
What will a personal licence look like?
A personal licence will be in two forms, the first will be in a small durable form, and contain the following information:
- the holders name and address
- an identifier for the licensing authority which granted it
- a photograph of the holder
- a unique number allocated by the licensing authority
- the date of expiry
The second part of the licence will contain the above information, apart from the photograph, and will also contain details of any relevant or foreign offence which the holder has been convicted.
What is the meaning of the term 'relevant offence'?
'Relevant offence' refers to the offences listed in the Act that could, on conviction, rule out the grant or renewal of a personal licence to the applicant concerned.
The offences include:
- those involving serious crime
- those involving serious dishonesty
- those involving controlled drugs
- certain sexual offences
- offences created by the Act
Since the Licensing Act 2003 received Royal Assent, there have been some minor changes to the list of relevant offences. Applicants should therefore refer to Schedule 4 of the Licensing Act 2003 and The Licensing Act 2003 (Personal licence: relevant offences) (Amendment) Order 2005
When applying for the grant of a personal licence or for the renewal of a personal licence, the applicant must include details of any relevant or foreign offences for which they have been convicted or, in the case of applications for the renewal of the licence, have been convicted since the grant or last renewal of the licence.
How do 'foreign offences' differ from relevant offences?
Convictions for offences (other than relevant offences) under the law of any place outside England and Wales, including other parts of the United Kingdom such as Scotland and Northern Ireland, are counted as foreign offences. Details of these will also need to be given. The reason for the separate terms is that offences under the law of places outside England and Wales, which are equivalent to relevant offences, will not necessarily exist in exactly the same form as relevant offences.
How will licensing authorities check relevant and foreign offence records?
Each personal licence application will have to include details of records of any relevant or foreign offence for which the applicant has been convicted. The licensing authority must give notice, where an applicant has been convicted of a relevant or foreign offence, to the chief officer of police for that area. The police will then consider the conviction.
For relevant offences the police will consult either their own records or those of the relevant police force if the offence was committed in a different area. The chief officer of police will then notify the licensing authority if he is satisfied that granting or renewing the personal licence would undermine the licensing objective of preventing crime and disorder. For foreign offences the police will take steps to contact their counterparts in the region or country where the conviction occurred.
What if I am convicted of a relevant offence while holding a personal licence?
If you are charged with a relevant offence, you must produce your personal licence to the court. If that is not practical, you must tell the court that you have a personal licence; the issuing authority, and why you can't produce the licence. If you are convicted, the Court will notify the relevant licensing authority about the conviction, and may order the forfeiture or suspension of the licence.
Failure to produce, or notify the court about your licence, without reasonable excuse, is an offence under section 128 of the Act. The sentence on conviction of this offence is a fine of up to £500, and could result in the forfeiture or suspension of the licence.
What happens if I am convicted for a relevant offence, but I failed to produce my licence to the court (or notify them of its existence)?
This is an offence (see above). It also becomes your duty to notify the licensing authority that granted the licence of the conviction for the relevant offence, and any sentence imposed. This notice must be accompanied by the personal licence, or a statement explaining why it was not enclosed. Failure to do this, without reasonable excuse, is an offence. The sentence on conviction of this offence is a fine of up to £500, and could result in the forfeiture or suspension of the licence.
What happens if I am convicted of a foreign offence?
You must notify the licensing authority that granted the licence of the conviction, and any sentence imposed. This notice must be accompanied by the personal licence, or a statement explaining why it was not enclosed. Failure to do so, without reasonable excuse, is an offence. The sentence on conviction of this offence is a fine of up to £500 and could result in the court ordering the forfeiture or suspension of the licence.
What happens if I am convicted of a relevant or foreign offence during the application period for the grant or renewal of a personal licence?
You must notify the licensing authority applied to of the conviction. Failure to do so, without reasonable excuse, is an offence. The sentence on conviction of this offence is a fine of up to £2500.
The Act makes provision for cases where appeals are made against convictions.
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