Alcohol Licence Law Alcohol minimum pricing

Published on December 21st, 2010 | by Dean Carr


Selling Alcohol in the United Kingdom

To sell alcohol in England Wales and Scotland you require both a personal licence and a premises licence. There are two licensing Acts for England, Wales and Scotland. These are as follows;

The Licensing Act 2003 for England and Wales

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005

To obtain a personal licence candidates are required to attend a licensing law training course. They are also required to sit a licensing law examination; this will then allow the candidate to then apply to the Licensing Authority or in Scotland the Licensing Board for a personal licence. Candidates are also required to prove they are a fit and proper person by obtaining a basic Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. In Scotland the Police conduct a PNC check and also conduct a Police interview with each applicant applying for a personal licence to sell alcohol.

Once an individual obtains a personal licence they can then be nominated on to a premises licence as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) or in Scotland this individual is known as the Premises Manager.

A Premises Licence will allow licensed premises to carry on licensable activities; these activities are as follows;

Licensable activities (England and Wales)

The Licensing Act 2003 defines “licensable activities” as:

The retail sale of alcohol,

The supply of alcohol in clubs,

The provision of late night refreshment, and

The provision of regulated entertainment


In turn, “regulated entertainment” is defined as:

A performance of a play,

An exhibition of a film,

An indoor sporting event,

A boxing or wrestling entertainment (both indoors and outdoors),

A performance of live music,

Any playing of recorded music, or

A performance of dance

Entertainment of a similar description to that falling in the previous three categories listed above.

“Late night refreshment” is defined as:

The supply of hot food or drink (that is, food or drink that is either served at, or has been heated on the premises to, a point above ambient temperature) to the public for consumption, both on or off the premises, between 23:00 and 05:00.

Licensing objectives

The licensing authority, in considering any application for a licence or for a variation must have regard to “the licensing objectives”:

England & Wales Scotland (Northern Ireland proposals) 
1. The prevention of crime and disorder;2. public safety;3. The prevention of public nuisance; and4. The protection of children from harm. 1. Preventing crime and disorder.2. Securing public safety.3. Preventing public nuisance.4. Protecting and improving public health.5. Protecting children from harm. 1. Promotion of public health.2. Promotion of public safety.3. Prevention of crime and disorder.4. Prevention of public nuisance.5. Protection of children from harm.6. Fair treatment of all stakeholder

Licensing authorities

The licensing authorities are local councils. In two-tier parts of England, these are the either District Councils or Borough Councils and elsewhere the unitary authority is the licensing authority.

In Scotland each Local Council has a Licensing Board to act as the licensing authority.

For a premises licence, the licensing authority is the council for the place where the premises are located; where they straddle a boundary, the applicant may choose either one. For a personal licence, it is the licensing authority in whose area the applicant lives.

The Licensing Authority is also responsible for the distribution of a Personal Licence. A Personal Licence bears the holder (Personal Licence Holder, or PLH) the permission to supply or sell by retail, or authorise the supply or sale by retail, of alcohol to anybody in employment in a Licensed Premises.

Personal Licence

A Personal Licence is issued after an applicant has passed an exam, the National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders, or NCPLH Level 2. Or in Scotland this is known as the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders SCPLH Level 5.

The NCPLH or SCPLH exam is a 40-question, multiple-choice paper, in which the applicant must achieve a score of 70 percent. The applicant must also receive a Basic Disclosure, which determines whether the applicant is deemed acceptable to adhere to the Licensing objectives. The areas covered are drink driving, assault, and drugs-related convictions or charges. The licensing authority, not the Criminal Records Bureau, issues Basic Disclosures. If the applicant has admitted to any of these before the NCPLH exam has taken place, then the licensing authority can request the permission of the Chief Constable of Police force of which the licensing authority lies in to issue the applicant a Personal Licence. (For example, in Leicestershire, Leicester City Council), the local Chief Constable of Police would be the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Constabulary.) If the local Chief Constable of Police does not authorise the issue of a Personal Licence to the applicant, the applicant cannot re-apply for a Personal Licence for two years.

If successful, achieving 70% in his/her NCPLH or SCPLH examination and by passing his/her CRB check, the licensing authority will grant the applicant a Personal Licence, valid for ten years. The licensing authority for a particular applicant is the local authority that is responsible for the area where they lived at the time the Personal Licence is granted. For example, if an applicant lives in Westminster, London, City of Westminster Council would issue a Personal Licence to the individual had they passed the appropriate checks. The applicant would then become a PLH (Personal Licence Holder).

If a Personal Licence H older moves to a different area either whilst his Personal Licence is due to expire, or has moved for a considerable amount of time and his Personal Licence will need to renewed during the time of expiry, the PLH will need to return to the licensing authority that issued his/her Personal Licence to renew it. For example, if the applicant mentioned above moved to Birmingham to run a shop, restaurant, pub or bar, etc., and needed to renew their Personal Licence in order to continue running it, then they would need to return to their original Personal Licence issuer, i.e. “City of Westminster Council” in order to renew it.

A Personal Licence H older (PLH) must inform the Issuing Licensing Authority of:

Any change of address;

Any change of name;

Any convictions or charges of drink driving;

Any drugs related convictions or charges;

Any convictions or charges of assault; or

Any convictions or charges of any other serious crime, for example, murder or rape

Failure to comply with the above could results in charges, convictions, fines and the revocation of a Personal Licence.

A Personal Licence is valid:

If the Licence has been issued by a licensing authority in England and Wales, or in any other area authorised by a different licensing authority, for ten years, but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

If an applicant who was issued a Personal Licence in Westminster then moved home to Birmingham to run a shop, restaurant, pub or bar etc., and then moved to Scotland instead, they would be required to undergo the same process again, in order to be issued a Personal Licence in Scotland.

If the Licence has been issued by a licensing authority in Scotland, but in Scotland only, for ten years. If the Personal Licence H older (PLH) wished to become a Personal Licence H older (PLH) in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, they would be required to undergo the same process again, in order to be issued a Personal Licence in the relevant area.

If the Licence has been issued by a relevant Personal Licence issuing authority in Northern Ireland, but in Northern Ireland only, for ten years and under substantially stricter conditions as the Licensing Authorities in England, Wales, and Scotland. If the Personal Licence H older (PLH) wished to become a Personal Licence H older (PLH) in England, Wales, or Scotland, they would be required to undergo the same process again, in order to be issued a Personal Licence in the relevant area.

A Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) is required to be a PLH. A DPS is responsible for a Premises Licence, details of which can be found above.

Local variations

Some local authorities have introduced their own restrictions on street drinking. For example, Reading Borough Council has banned street drinking in parts of Reading town centre

The reason for this is unclear, because the new local law merely duplicates the existing national law against being drunk and disorderly.

Training Courses for NCPLH and SCPLH qualifications

Our sister Companies Personal Licence Training Limited and Personal Licence Scotland .com

Provide over 120 NCPLH and SCPLH training dates in England, Wales and Scotland every month. Their websites are listed below

Related External Links


About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188

Back to Top ↑

Read previous post:
Personal Licence Training
Premises Licence to Sell Alcohol Granted in Saint Saviours Road, Leicester.

With the help of Personal Licence Training Ltd, a premises licence was granted for the Unity Function Suite, Saint Saviours...