• 0161 696 6170
  • Request a callback
Stephensons Solicitors LLP Banner Image

Drinks & alcohol licensing solicitors

All UK business that intend on selling alcoholic drinks to the public must abide to the current legislation and licensing laws. This applies to food businesses that serve alcohol as well as pubs, bars and nightclubs. A premises license must be held for the venue itself and a personal alcohol license must also be held by a designated premises supervisor (DPS) in relation to the venue. Failure to have the right license or follow the regulations in terms of how the alcohol is being sold can result in heavy fines, restrictions being placed on the business, and any licenses held can be called for review.

If you have any concerns about your business in relation to enforcement of  licences or the regulations in relation to selling or serving alcohol, get in touch with our expert team for specialist advice. Call us on 0161 696 6250 or complete our online enquiry form.


Excellent4.6 score on Trustpilot
Rated 4.6 / 5 Based on 2007 reviews
Read all reviews

Alcohol licensing regulation

Under The Licensing Act 2003, a premises license can be issued by your local licensing authority if they are satisfied with your application and that you meet all of the relevant requirements. This is the case even if your ‘premises’ isn’t a fixed building, so structures like beer trucks, event marquees and even boats also require a premises alcohol license. You may also be seeking or have obtained a temporary alcohol license if you are a business that holds events up to a maximum of 10 times a year.

There are various rules and regulations in place in relation to the sale of alcoholic beverages, including age restrictions, restrictions on the age of employees selling alcohol, due diligence when dealing with wholesalers, price limits, responsible promotions, and premises hours.

Breaches of alcohol licensing law or licence requirements can result in your local authority, trading standards, or the police taking enforcement action. Enforcement powers extend from a verbal warning through to prosecution and injunctions. The type of action taken will very much depend upon the circumstances and what is in the ‘public interest’, it can include:

Licence reviews

A licence review can be requested by anyone if the concerns relates to the prevention of crime and disorder, public nuisance, to protect children from harm, or for public safety. If there are concerns about a premises or the alcohol sales at that premises, a review is often used by a regulatory body to place restrictions on a licence, suspend a licence for up to 3 months, or revoke a licence that is already in place.

There are two types of reviews; a regular review and expedited reviews (also known as summary reviews). Regular reviews are more commonly used by the local authorities or neighbours, whereas an expedited review is led by the police. The latter is more serious and occurs if the premises is associated with serious crime or disorder, such as drug dealing. All decisions can be appealed to the Magistrates Court.

There are strict timescales involved with reviews and therefore it is important that you seek assistance at the first opportunity. We can assist you with review hearings, and we can assist with an appeal.

Closure Notices and Orders

The police and the local authority have the power to close a venue down instantly if they consider it is the cause of anti-social behaviour, disorder, or nuisance. This can have a serious impact upon your business, both financial and reputational.

A closure notice will usually be in force for a period of 48 hours, during which time the regulatory authority will apply to the Magistrates Court for the notice to be confirmed as a closure order. A closure order can result in a premises being closed for between three to six months. A closure order automatically triggers a review of your premises licence.

Decisions can be appealed within 21 days, and at any point before the closure order expires, an application can be made to have the order discharged. Given the timescales involved and the impact upon your business, it is vital that you seek advice immediately.

Noise Abatement Notices

Pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels, off-licences or bars can result in excessive noise that disturbs neighbours and local residents. Often people will complain to the local authority and this can result in a Noise Abatement Notice, which can order you to stop doing whatever it is that is causing the noise. Failure to comply can result in a prosecution. Notices such as this can however be appealed within 21 days.

Trading Standards investigations and prosecution

Trading Standards work to ensure that businesses are compliant with laws around selling to consumers. In respect of alcohol, this primarily relates to weights and measures, sales of age-restricted products, and fair trading. Trading standards undertake their own surveillance, including inspections and test purchases. A common issue identified can be watering down of drinks, sales to underage people, and evaporation of slow-moving spirits. If Trading Standards consider you to be in violation of the law, they have several options available including issuing cautions, fixed-penalty notices, license reviews, and pursing criminal prosecution.

For more information please visit: Trading Standards investigations

How can we help?

Whether there is a problem in relation to your license or any of the other regulations around the sale of alcohol, it’s important that you take expert legal advice as soon as possible. Taking action immediately can help your business to minimise the risks of serious enforcement measures being taken and help protect your business interests.

With specialist experience in this area, our regulatory law team can offer expert advice and help your business to achieve the best possible outcome from the situation. Call us on 0161 696 6250 or complete our online enquiry form.

loading staff

CQC publishes final guidance on visiting and accompanying in care homes, hospitals, and hospices

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its final guidance for health and social care providers on 4 April 2024, which outlines what providers must do to make sure they respect the right of each person to receive visits and to be accompanied in care...

Read more

Challenging an Ofsted inspection - what is the process?

Ofsted previously announced that, following a three-month consultation, it was to make changes to the post-inspection and complaints-handling process to ensure that concerns about inspections are dealt with quickly and robustly. This move followed...

Read more

Regulatory defence - staff reorder

  • Carl Johnson
  • Sean Joyce
  • Laura Hannah
  • Paul Loughlin
  • Chloe Parish
  • Martin Haisley
  • Cameron Stubbs
  • Katie Wilson
  • Skye MacPhee
  • Molly McMurtry
  • Adam Smith
  • Martyn Jackson