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Bankruptcy and a lapsed licence.

Does my premises licence lapse if I declare myself bankrupt?

Q: I am the premises licence holder for my gastro pub but recently I had to make myself bankrupt. The Licensing Officer has told me that my licence lapsed when I became bankrupt, and now it is too late for my wife to apply to transfer it into her name. He said I have to make a new licence application which could take a month, possibly two. What am I to do in the meantime?

A: The Licensing Officer is correct. Upon an insolvency event of the premises licence holder, such as bankruptcy, the licence lapses. If no action is taken in 28 days then the licence dies irrevocably. There are several options you may wish to consider, although none of them are perfect. Firstly, you may allow customers to bring their own alcohol on a “BYOB” basis – you can still charge corkage, as you are not selling the alcohol.

Any background music you play isn’t licensable, and you could still have live music at the premises under the provisions introduced by the Live Music Act, on the basis that you are a workplace. This would allow you to have live music for an audience of up to 200 people until 11.00 pm. Lastly, you could apply for TENs to cover your busiest periods, perhaps at the weekends. Remember you can apply for a “standard” TEN giving 10 clear working days’ notice as well as “late” TENs which require a maximum of 9 and a minimum 5 working days’ notice.

As you permit dining, remember that the supply of hot food and hot non-alcoholic drink up until 11.00 pm is also not licensable. It may also be worth remembering that your bankruptcy does not affect any status you hold as a personal licence holder.

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