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Strategic licensing advice regarding administrations

Helping operators protect their licences when they hit operational problems

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Over the last 18 months or so, COVID 19 has impacted the world in unimaginable ways. And one of the sectors hardest hit has been licensed leisure.

Though many operators have developed successful delivery services, covering both food and alcohol, many were forced into administration, insolvency or a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA).

From a legal perspective, once an operator goes into such business arrangements, their premises licences lapse. This means the operator would be unable to sell alcohol in any of their premises.

To stop this happening, it is vital that all premises licences are transferred into the new business entity / company within group (resulting from the restructuring process) on or before a specific day.

If the premises licences are not transferred in time and they lapse, the premises licence is permanently lost and a new premises licence needs applying for on order for the operator to sell alcohol. This would lead to three main issues:

  • Cost: It is around 10 times more expensive to apply for a new premises licence than a transfer
  • Time: It takes between 4 to 6 weeks to obtain a licence, meaning significant business interruption
  • No guarantees: There are no guarantees that new premises licenses would be granted for each location. And if they were, they might not obtain the same trading hours or conditions.

In recent months a team of five solicitors and legal experts, led by Partner Graeme Cushion, managed the timely transfer of 800+ licences for several operators.

This was an enormous undertaking which involved completing / submitting an application to 100s of different local authorities on specific dates. This project took months to complete to ensure all sites could continue to sell alcohol / trade.

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