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 Licensing law solicitors

Licensing law solicitors

Led by a Law Society of Scotland Accredited Specialist in licensing law, our licensing team’s knowledge of complex legislation across all sectors, allied to comprehensive and practical advice, ensures we make it simple for you to keep on top of what is required.


Alcohol, gambling and civic licensing law advice

Our team has extensive experience in all aspects of licensing law in Scotland, and is recognised as one of the country’s leading practices.

We have specialist knowledge of all forms of alcohol, gambling and civic government licensing and can also help you with any licensing board appearance work. We have also assisted clients with other licensing regimes, including private landlord registration and firearms certification.

We advise both private and public sector clients, ranging from owner-operators to multi-property limited companies and public limited companies.

With offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, our solicitors represent clients across the length and breadth of Scotland, utilising strong relationships and working knowledge in all 32 local authority areas to ensure you receive the best, most effective representation wherever you are.


Our services

Key licensing services:



Our alcohol licensing clients range across all types of retail, from small convenience stores to supermarkets and petrol forecourt operators. We assist pubs, clubs, restaurants and hoteliers. We help wholesalers, brewers and micro-brewers. Our range of experiences in on sales trade of span across landlords and tenants alike

We can help with:

  • Applications for Premises Licence, variations and transfers
  • Personal licences
  • Occasional licence
  • Review of all types of licence
  • Appeals to the Court against decisions of the licensing board



We have a long history of assisting clients in the gambling sector. We have been the principal advisors to one of the largest UK bookmakers for over 30 years.

We can advise in relation to both non-remote “high street” gambling from premises and remote gambling, such as use of online and smart Apps to facilitate all forms of gambling activity.

With new form of remote gaming the key question is often “do I need a licence?” We can provide expert advice and, where required, we can help you successfully navigate the application process.

Civic government


The civic government licensing scheme cover a wide range of activities from taxi and taxi drivers licensing, to late hours catering and public entertainment licence.

We help clients ranging from private hire taxi firms, to retailers looking to operate on 24 hours a day. We assist with application for licence, reminders for renewals and where problems might arise, we are experienced in representation at suspension hearings and Sheriff Court appeals.


Examples of our work

Petrol station retailers


The sale of alcohol from petrol station retail shops has long been controversial. We have successfully assisted in over 100 alcohol premises licence applications for petrol forecourt retailers. Our client’s include BP Oil UK Limited and Motor Fuel Group.

The legal test for the sale of alcohol from petrol stations changed from September 2009. We acted for BP Oil UK Limited in appeal cases that ultimately succeeded before the Inner House of the Court of Session in April 2011. These cases, determined in BP Oil UK Limited v City of Glasgow and City of Edinburgh Licensing Board remain the leading cases in respect of petrol station premises licences in Scotland and represents the basis of the legal test now applied in all such applications.

Test purchase & licence suspension


Where a licence is under threat of suspension, it often presents a “business critical” risk to an operator. We have extensive experience in representing clients who have found themselves under review. We are able to guide our clients both in respect of review proceedings and in the implementation of appropriate steps to take to mitigate again future risks to their licence.

We acted for Lidl Great Britain Limited (then Lidl UK GmbH) in the successful challenge to the decision of City of Glasgow Licensing Board to suspend their premises licence for a period of 5 days following a failed in-store test purchase. The decision of the Court of Session in April 2013 to overturn the suspension remains one of the key licensing cases in assessing the licensing board’s powers on review and the application of a suspension of revocation of licence.

Licensing in sport


We acted a principal advisors to Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in connection with licensing matters that arose during the Games and specifically around the opening ceremony at Celtic Park.

We represented Culture and Sport Glasgow in their recent application for a public entertainment licence for the official Euro 2020 Fanzone in Glasgow Green.

Related services:


“Harper Macleod’s expertise in licensing is evident and the firm has dealt with and responded to all of our enquiries and questions promptly.”

– Chambers UK 2024

“Andrew Hunter is the only partner I use; I would trust him with any licensing matter we could come across.” “I have dealt with Andrew in six separate councils – and he is well known, respected and liked in each one which is massively helpful on applications.” “Andrew Hunter has a calm persona and is able to deal with anything. He has also been creative in deals under pressure, understanding our pressures and how he can provide advice to satisfy us as a client, and provide us with a clear strategy and timescales of how to move forward.”

– The Legal 500 2023

“Andrew Hunter is smart and commercially very switched on. He is an impressive licensing board performer as well.”

– Chambers UK 2023

“Harper Macleod is a respected practice that possesses expertise across the full range of liquor and premises licensing matters. The firm acts as a one-stop shop for clients from the licensed sector, engaging corporate and real estate teams. Harper Macleod is notably active for petrol station operators, with further skill representing clients from the casual dining, hospitality and retail industries.”

– Chambers UK 2022

“Andrew Hunter is reputed for his experience in this field. He regularly assists clients with their operations in the supermarket, hotel and petrol station sectors with various licensing applications and reviews.”

– Chambers UK 2022



Glasgow Edinburgh Inverness Elgin Thurso Shetland
Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.

Speak to us today on 0330 159 5555

Get in touch


Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.