Since 2005, in England and Wales, in order to qualify for a personal licence, a person must have completed an accredited training course and undergo a criminal records check.  A further criminal records check is required after ten years when the licence must be renewed.

In their new Deregulation Bill, the Government sets out its proposals to abolish the requirement (within England and Wales) to renew personal licences every ten years.  However, the Home Office recently confirmed that this will not become law before March 2015 at the earliest, meaning that those who were issued with their personal licences in the early part of 2005 should consider whether they need to submit a renewal application to the local authority.  Renewal applicants will need to include their existing personal licence, two photographs (endorsed as a true likeness by a solicitor or notary or other person of standing), an updated criminal records check and disclosure form along with the local authority fee.  Applications for renewal can be lodged within a two-month period beginning three months before the licence’s expiry date.

The abolition of the renewal requirement is anticipated to save around £30 million to licence holders across England and Wales as well as reduce the burden on local authorities, which will not have to process the renewal applications (anticipated to be around 200,000 in 2015).  Safeguards will remain, however, as a personal licence holder convicted of a relevant offence is required to tell the Court if they have a personal licence pursuant to section 128 of the Licensing Act 2003.  The Courts will retain powers to forfeit a personal licence if the holder is convicted of a relevant offence.

The requirement to renew has been viewed as disproportionate and unnecessary by many in the hospitality industry and, whilst the removal of this requirement next year will be a welcome deregulatory measure, it may come too late for some personal licence holders.

Scotland, by way of contrast is retaining the personal licence renewal requirement and requires all holders to undertake regular refresher training every five years to keep their skills up to date and retain their licence.  We first reported on this issue in our compulsory refresher courses for Scottish personal licence holders article.

A number of personal licence holders have still to complete the necessary training and risk losing their personal licence, forfeiting the opportunity to re-apply for a replacement licence for a period of 5 years.  Licensing boards and the trade press in Scotland are urging those who received a licence on or before 1st September 2009 to ensure they complete the appropriate course by 31st August 2014, and then notifying the relevant licensing board of this within 3 months to avoid losing their licence.