Licensing Act 2003 overview

Since 24 November 2004, all licenses have been issued by the local authority. Those previously issued by the magistrates or the local authority are now void.

The transfer of responsibility for liquor licensing from the Courts to local authorities provides for greater local accountability in the making of licensing decisions. The purpose of the new licensing system is to promote 4 fundamental objectives:

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance
  • the protection of children from harm

These objectives are achieved through a system of personal licences, premises licences, club premises certificates and temporary permissions. Sandwell has produced a Licensing Act 2003 Statement of Licensing Policy that outlines our aims and policies. The policy was last reviewed and approved in May 2020.

Personal licences authorise individuals to sell or supply alcohol. To qualify for a licence an individual will need to be at least 18 years of age and possess a recognised qualification and have obtained a criminal conviction check. Once granted the personal licence will last indefinitely.

Premises licences authorise the holder of the licence to use the premises for activities such as the sale and supply of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment, or the provision of late night refreshment. The licence will run indefinitely but can be varied at any time and, in certain circumstances can be subject to review. Club Premises Certificates are issued to qualifying clubs which provide licensable activities to club members and guests only.

Temporary events, lasting no longer than 7 days and involving less than 499 people are not subject to the same requirements as a full premises licence. Instead, a 'light touch' approach is given to such events, which is intended to benefit schools, voluntary organisations, community groups and others who put on events occasionally. These are termed Temporary Event Notices (TEN).

The Licensing Act does not prescribe the days or opening hours when alcohol may be sold or indeed, when any licensable activity may be carried on. Instead, an applicant will be able to choose the days and hours during which they wish to be licensed.

When an application for a new licence has been made, and before a new licence can be granted, representations can be made by the police, fire service and other statutory bodies, (these are the Responsible Authorities), as well as other people and local councillors; as long as the representations concern the promotion of the licensing objectives.

Once a licence has been granted then it is open to review on application from one of the responsible authorities as well as local residents and businesses and local councillors, again the representations must concern the promotion of the licensing objectives. Such representations must not be vexatious or repetitious.

The complete Licensing Act 2003 can be found at the Office of Public Sector Information.

The forms you will need for applications can be found at the Home Office site.