The Licensing Act 2003: Introduction

11 June, 2007

The Licensing Act 2003, when implemented in 2005, brought the first major overhaul of our licensing system for well over 40 years and the first change in responsibility for well over a century. The

re is both bad news and good news for the off-licensed sector because of the universal nature of the new-style licences you are now subject to form-filling and legal requirements that you may have avoided for many years, plus a set of questions most of which are irrelevant to your operation. But on the plus side there are possible business advantages in the new scheme, most of which are outlined in this section of our website. You will now be the proud possessor of a new-style personal licence which allows you to engage in a much wider range of activities, should your ambitions lead you there. You will also be able to develop your business, because you are no longer restricted solely to off-sales, or to the existing permitted hours, if a variation of your operation is agreed to.

It is true that the new Licensing Act has not been compiled with the off-trade principally in mind. As a result, most of the headlines are to do with round-the-clock consumption and binge drinkers. But off-licences, too, bear a heavy responsibility for ensuring that youngsters do not get their hands on alcohol at an early age, and that the neighbourhood is not blighted by street drinkers and rowdy behaviour.

The Government wants to balance new freedoms to trade with the ability of local communities to control outlets more effectively. This is why they have transferred responsibility to local councils. But they have not entirely cut out the bureaucracy that bedevils this form of administration. I hope this guide will lead you through the apparent complexities so that you can make your business grow and prosper without undue interference.

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