Jane Lindop, a senior associate specialising in licensing and real estate law, provides an update on recent developments in licensing law.

Renewal of personal licences

Although the Government does intend to remove the requirement for personal licences to be renewed every 10 years, the legislation putting this into effect has not yet been passed. As the first personal licences were granted in February 2005, the 10 year period will expire before the new law takes effect. Therefore, if you hold a personal licence which expires in early 2015, you must still apply for renewal of your licence.

An application for renewal of a personal licence must be made not more than three months nor less than one month before the licence expires. If the application is not submitted by the date one month before expiry, it is too late to apply and the licence will lapse on the expiry date. This will mean that you will have to apply for a new licence and will need to submit the full application form accompanied by the fee, photos, disclosure of convictions form and the results of a subject access search of the Police National Computer. It also means that you cannot act as a designated premises supervisor of licensed premises nor authorise the sale of alcohol until a new licence is granted.

The government have now issued a new application form for renewals which can be accessed at www.gov.uk/government/publications/renew-personal-licence. The renewal application is considerably simpler than an application for a new licence. There is no fee payable and no supporting documentation required other than the current personal licence.

Whilst the new legislation to abolish the need for renewals is currently being dealt with by parliament, they cannot specify when it will become law. Therefore, if you reach the point where your licence expires in less than three months, it is advisable to submit an application for renewal.

New mandatory licensing conditions

On 1 October 2014, new legislation came into force which amended the mandatory licensing conditions relating to the sale of alcohol which were introduced in 2010. The 2014 Order is designed to tighten the existing mandatory licensing conditions relating to irresponsible promotions, the provision of free drinking water, the adoption and application of age verification policies and the provision of small measures at licensed premises.

The fifth mandatory condition introduced in 2010 – the prohibition of dispensing alcohol directly into a person's mouth – has now been incorporated within the condition relating to irresponsible promotions. The additional mandatory condition introduced in May 2014 which bans the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty plus VAT still remains in force.

New Licensing Act guidance

A new version of the guidance under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003, advising licensing authorities on the discharge of their functions under the Act, was issued in October 2014. The new guidance reflects recent changes relating to mandatory conditions, early morning alcohol restriction orders and application forms for temporary event notices.