Published on February 2nd, 2012 | by Dean Carr
Alcohol Laws and Licensing Laws
Alcohol laws in the UK are continuously evolving. At Alcohol Licence.org, we strive to keep you up-to-date and confident with the details of alcohol laws and licensing laws.
The Licensing Act 2003
The majority of alcohol laws relating to the selling of alcohol within a licensed premises are encompassed within the Licensing Act 2003. The Licensing Act, brought into full force in April 2005, provides a single streamlined system of licensing under the law, designed to condense and replace the wide ranging legislation that preceded it. As the Secretary of State commented in 2003, “this is a far-reaching Bill that will…sweep away swathes of red tape and bureaucracy”.
The Two Licences
Legislation contained within the Licensing Act 2003 will generally relate to either the personal licence or the premises licence. These two subcategories, each a mandatory licence, were designed to replace a more numerous set of licences that were relevant to differing types of premises, condensing alcohol laws.
The Personal Licence: This licence relates to the people involved in alcohol retail. Under the Licensing Act, every sale or supply of alcohol must be made or authorised by a personal licence holder. Additionally, the sole Designated Premises Supervisor must be a personal licence holder. A personal licence applicant must hold a relevant qualification: in England and Wales, the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) Level 2; in Scotland, the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH) Level 5.
For more information about applying for a personal licence, Click here.
The Premises Licence: This licence relates to the venue in which alcohol is being sold or supplied. Under this licence, the Designated Premises Supervisor is obliged to draw up an operating schedule, detailing measures put in place to support the four licensing objectives. These key licensing objectives have shaped the nature of alcohol laws, notably the licensing laws enshrined within the premises licence.
For more information about applying for a premises licence, Click here.
The four licensing objectives:
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- Public safety
- The prevention of public nuisance
- The protection of children from harm
The development of parallel legislation
Since the drawing up of the Licensing Act 2003, concerns over the effects of alcohol misuse on health and crime figures have risen in profile within government and the media, leading to an increase in parallel legislation. Often, a careful balance has to be struck within alcohol licensing law between the priorities of health campaigners, the liberty of the industry and the legislation already laid down within the Licensing Act 2003.
Liver disease is now the country’s fifth biggest killer, and cases of alcoholic liver disease in the under-30s have risen by half in the past 10 years, according to the Department of Health. In response to these statistics, the coalition has announced the formation of a “drink strategy”, balancing input from both the health lobby and the drinks industry. Similarly, drug and alcohol problems in the Isle of Man are set to become government priorities, hinting towards a review of alcohol laws.
Gavin Partington of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, has suggested that the alcohol retail industry in Britain is very willing to help limit alcohol abuse, with large companies are increasingly aware of their social responsibilities: “It is important for them to be seen to implement policies that are going to be tackling what is a very real problem.” Nevertheless, he added that the industry believes in voluntary codes of practice rather than legislation to limit the availability, price or advertising.
As part of a coalition agreement, a ban of the sale of alcohol below a minimum price will be introduced in England and Wales from 6 April 2012, mimicking Scottish developments in alcohol licensing law. Under the conditions of the Act, shops and bars will not be able to sell drinks for less than the tax paid on them, capping minimum retail prices at 21p per unit of beer and 28p per unit of spirits.
For more details on the pricing legislation, Click here.
Meanwhile, a report commissioned by Alcohol Concern argues that Government needs to introduce measures that reduce the general availability of alcohol by regulating off-licence density, effectively limiting the numerical density of off-licences within a given neighbourhood or street. The Licensing Act 2003, however, prohibits against the rejection of a premises licence on the grounds of the density.
For our commentary on the One on Every Corner report, Click here.