HM Insights

Coronavirus: new legislation proposes changes for licensed premise operators

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill was published on 31 March 2020 to pass through all stages of the Scottish Parliament on 1 April. The Bill continues a number of provisions to deal with some of the inflexibility in alcohol and other licensed legislation to meet the challenges faced by operators and licensing authorities due to the movement and other restrictions which are in place as the UK seeks to combat the spread of the virus. Our previous update on advice for licensed premises holders can been read here.

It is expected that the amendments will run from 1 April to 30 September 2020, though the Bill empowers the Parliament to reduce or extend the provisions as the situation develops.

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Allowing more time

The standing theme of the various amendments is to allow more time for all parties to do things, so examples are:

  • Currently the holder of an alcohol premises licence must notify the licensing board within seven days if the premises licence manager ceases to work at the premises, and if they do so, they can continue to sell alcohol providing they apply to appoint a new manager within six weeks of the date when the manager ceases to work at the premises. The Bill proposes to change these deadlines to 28 days and three months respectively. The Bill also proposes extensions to the renewal periods of personal licences and for providing evidence of refresher training.
  • In the Civic Government licensing scheme, covering taxi licensing, late hours catering (relevant to premises operating as takeaways only), the renewal dates are not shifted but the Bill proposes to change the period to allow an application to be received though late on the giving of a good reason from 28 days to three months. One would anticipate that the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus would offer a good reason for lodging late.
  • The Bill also empowers licensing board and licensing committees to determine applications which would have required a hearing to take place, but without such a hearing being convened, providing they afford any person who would have been entitled to attend the meeting the chance to do so, by any doing so, in writing, on the telephone or via video link.
  • Lastly and of note, the Bill encapsulates the undertaken given to licensed premises to operate as takeaways, even if their licence did not strictly state so by amending the conditions of licence as follows: "If food is sold on the premises but the operating plan contained in the licence does not contain an express term to the effect that food may be taken away, or delivered, from the premises for consumption off the premises, a term to that effect is to be implied into the operating plan.

Get in touch

There are a number of other minor adjustments to the licensing process and we would be delighted to guide you through any of the specific proposals that are relevant to your business. If you have any questions relating to this our any other issues affecting your licensed premise during the current crisis, we are ready, willing and able to assist.

You can find more information and contact details below.

We are here to help you if you need it.

Useful links

CORONAVIRUS ADVICE