Licensing in United Kingdom

The Licensing Act 2003 was one of the largest revamps in the United Kingdom licensing laws for half a millennium. The Licensing Act 1953 consolidating some of the previous law and 1964 producing a new Licensing Act which in 2005 passed into history

At the end of 2005 the United Kingdom archaic licensing legislation was swept aside and replaced. The fixed 11pm call of “time at the bar” was a thing of the past and people had, since then, more choice about how they spend their leisure time. This reform represented the most radical shake up of the United Kingdom licensing laws in 40 years.

Underpinning the 2005 reform were the following objectives:

  • the prevention of crime and disorder,
  • the public safety,
  • the prevention of public nuisance, and
  • the protection of children from harm.

Six regimes were turned into one, which was the responsibility of one local, accountable authority – a licensing authority. They licence the sale of alcohol, the supply of alcohol by clubs, the provision of regulated entertainment and the provision of late night refreshment. This cut out significant amounts of red tape at a stroke.

The current system gives authorities a range of powers to tackle venues where the law is flouted, where problems are occurring or if the local community is being disrupted. The new system provided only two options – either do nothing or revoke the licence.

Local businesses and residents were among those who were be able to ask for a review of a licence, which could result in its suspension or revocation. In addition, local businesses and local residents can have their say on many applications, giving the local community more opportunity than ever before to have their say in the licensing decisions that affect them.

Each licensing authority has drawn up their own policy which complements the local authority’s wider strategy to prevent crime and disorder, as well as looking at the impact on transport, regeneration and tourism.


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