“If you have an immediate problem he will drop everything to make sure you do not lose a licence”

Chambers and Partners


Jonathan Smith gained his LLB (Hons) 2:1 from Sheffield University and qualified as a Solicitor in November 1992. In 2020 leading legal directory, Legal 500, ranked him in their prestigious ‘Hall of Fame’ for licensing.

Jonathan has been a licensing Solicitor here at Poppleston Allen now since 1997. After being made Partner in 2002, he succeeded founder Jeremy Allen as Managing Partner in 2006; splitting his time between developing the firm and advising clients.

In April 2018 Jonathan handed over the Managing Partner reigns to Lisa Sharkey, allowing him to concentrate fully on helping licensed operators solve their alcohol licensing problems.

How Jonathan can help you:

No matter what alcohol licensing problems you are facing, Jonathan can help you solve them. For example, you might have found a great site for your next pub or restaurant but need a premises licence before you can start trading.

Maybe you’re operating a late night bar or nightclub and want to vary your existing premises licence, allowing you to sell alcohol later into the early hours; or maybe add a late night refreshment licence so you can sell hot food after 23:00.

Or you might be facing the prospect of losing your premises licence altogether due to serious issues such as drug use, disorder or repeated sales of alcohol to under 18s; so need emergency advice and representation at a licensing hearing.

If that’s the case you couldn’t be in safer hands, as Jonathan has been involved in over 170 licencing reviews during the last 20 or so years.

Best Lawyers has recognised Jonathan as one of the best legal talents in the world since 2009.

Working with the trade:

Jonathan regularly speaks at trade events and licensing conferences. He also writes articles for the national licensing press. On top of that he is a:

  • Board Member of the Management, Organisation and Development Committee of the Institute of Licensing.
  • Legal advisor to UKHospitality
  • Legal advisor to the British Beer and Pub Association
  • A judge of the Publican Awards

Some national chain clients:

  • Rekom UK, UK’s largest nightclub operator of nightclubs
  • Moto, Motorway service stations
  • Arena Racing, UK’s largest operator of race courses
  • LT Management Services, run 1100 outlets covering pubs, restaurants and night clubs
  • Bourne Leisure, operator of holiday brands including Haven Holidays, Butlins and Warner Leisure Hotels.
  • Smashburger – An American fast-casual hamburger restaurant chain, with more than 370 corporate and franchise-owned restaurants in 9 countries including the UK.
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • itsu


“Just wanted to say thank you for all your advice in the run up to our event. It all went smoothly thank god! Really appreciate you being so available for contact even when you were away!” – Sophie Bickerstaff, Pop-Up Event Manager at Soho House Group

“Jonathan Smith has an encyclopaedic knowledge of licensing and a forensic ability to absorb, dissect and present information.” – Chambers and Partners 

“Exceptionally hard-working, highly experienced and determined to succeed on all levels” – Legal 500

“Someone you want on your side” – Legal 500

“Jonathan is hugely experienced in alcohol and entertainment licensing.” – Chambers and Partners 

“Jonathan Smith is a leader in the field. I could not recommend him more highly.”  – Chambers and Partners

“First of all may I say a huge huge thank you for all the work you have done in securing the Licence For “”York House”” which originally came through on the 11th March 2016….and in also securing the transfer of same to York House Ltd……and ultimately getting the whole thing covered for us all by the “”Shadow Licence””. I would have no hesitation in using your services in the future or recommending them to someone else ……of which I already have.” – Peter Bown, Managing Director at Clifford Bown & Son LTD

Very articulate and can put forward a compelling case” – Legal 500

“Suraj Desor, Lisa Sharkey and Jonathan Smith are our key solicitor contacts and all provide an outstanding and trusted service. All are unique in their ways of working but still work to the same Poppleston Allen standards and ethic. Whoever we work with, consistency and excellence is guaranteed.” – The Legal 500