The controls introduced by the Licensing Act 2003 for the regulation of the supply of alcohol include a regime for the granting of personal licences to individuals allowing them 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 current regime whereby publicans are tied by licence to the premises where they work.

The personal licence relates only to the supply of alcohol under a premises licence. An individual will not require a personal licence for other licensable activities such as the provision of regulated entertainment or late night refreshment, or for the supply of alcohol under a club premises certificate.

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 time.

Any individual may seek a personal licence whether or not they have current employment or business interests associated with the use of the licence. However, Fylde Borough Council can only grant a personal licence to an applicant who normally lives in there borough or who does not live in the area of any Licensing Authority.

Following amendments to the Licensing Act in April 2015, there is no longer a requirement to renew a Personal Licence and they will be issued without an expiry date.

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 in a similar way that a driving licence permits the driving of a car. It replaces the ‘fit and proper person’ tests with a requirement to possess a licensing qualification, in most cases.

Do I have to have to hold a personal licence to work in a pub?

No. The only person required to hold a personal licence to work in any licensed premises is the designated premises supervisor in respect of the premises licence. However every supply of alcohol under the premises licence must be made or authorised by a person who holds a personal licence.

What is meant by 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.
These offences include:

  • Those involving serious crime;
  • Those involving serious dishonesty;
  • Those involving controlled drugs;
  • Certain sexual offences; and
  • Offences created by the Act.

The full list of relevant offences can be found within Schedule 4 to the Act. 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 of since the grant or last renewal of the licence.

What if I am convicted of an offence whilst holding a personal licence?

The holder of a personal licence, charged with a relevant offence must produce his licence to the court or, if that is not practical, notify the court of the existence of the personal licence. If a licence holder is convicted of a relevant or foreign offence whilst holding a personal licence, they must, as soon as reasonably practicable, inform the licensing authority which granted the licence, of the conviction.

The licensing authority must then notify the chief officer of police for its area who may, within 14 days, notify the authority if he considers that the continuation of the licence would undermine the crime prevention objective. In such cases, the authority must hold a hearing to consider the objection notice which could lead to the revocation of the personal licence.

If an applicant for the grant or renewal of a personal licence is convicted of a relevant or foreign offence during the application process, they must also notify the licensing authority they are applying to of the conviction. Failure to do so is an offence.

How do ‘foreign offences’ differ from relevant offences?

Relevant offences are those offences listed in Schedule 4 to the Act. 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 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.

How much will I have to pay for a personal licence?

The personal licence fee is £37 for each licence.

How do I obtain the necessary licensing qualification for a personal licence?

The syllabus for the personal licence qualifications was published in July 2003 and is available via the DCMS website. The syllabus sets out the structure for any course that will result in the student obtaining a licensing qualification.