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How long does it take to get a premises licence?

Read about the time it takes before you can open your doors (or launch your website) for alcohol sales

Restaurant closed sign due to waiting for a decision on their premises licence

If you are wondering how long it takes to get a premises licence (sometimes called liquor licence, alcohol licence, or even a pub licence), this is the page for you.

However, I am going to make an assumption at this point. And my assumption is that you already know the legal process involved in getting a premises licence. If I am wrong, you should probably read this page first; applying for a premises licence.

But, if you already know the ‘how’ but just need to know the ‘how long’, then the answer is: 28 days.

But be careful, getting your premises licence is rarely that quick

This is because after you submit your application to your local authority’s licensing team, there is a 28 day timeframe where people can object; the legal term for which is ‘making representation’. And these representations can be from a range of different people and be on behalf of business or organisations. Sure, your application can receive representations from the people living above your proposed new bar, but they can also be from the police, local councilor, the licensing authority or environmental health.

These will invariably make the process longer as the representations will need to be dealt with. And the way you do this is to try to ‘negotiate away’ the concerns which people have. If you can’t, your application might end up be decided at a licensing hearing – again furthering the time it takes to get your premises licence.

And you might not get what you want

Should your premises licence application get representations which cannot be negotiated away, leaving you facing a hearing, you might end up with a premises licence that doesn’t give you what you want: for example, you might get one with:

  • trading hours less than applied for
  • conditions only allowing alcohol to be sold with a substantial meal
  • limits on the use of any outdoor spaces and imposes the use of polycarbonates (plastic glasses) to reduce noise
  • application could be refused entirely

How long does it take to get a hearing date?

Hearing should be held within a 4 week period after the 28 day consultation. However, this can vary due to your local authorities workload. It may take longer than the statutory timeframe for the authority to process your application / hold the hearing.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic for licensing applications always took place in person. However, due to obvious reasons, we have seen these hearings evolve and move online.

After the hearing you should receive a decision after five working days, however this can sometimes take a few days longer.

If your licence is granted, you can start trading immediately.

Can I appeal my application if refused?

If the council refuses your application, you can appeal to the Magistrate’s Court. You can appeal within 21 days of being notified in writing of the decision. If you proceed to an appeal, then to obtain a decision could take an additional 6-12 months, maybe longer.

How to reduce the likelihood of getting representations and slowing down the process

Our licensing solicitors deal with 1000s of premise licence applications each year, yet treat each one as a unique piece of legal work.

Their experience and legal know how mean they know how to structure your application specific to your premise. Not only does this give you the best chance of avoiding representations, and quickly getting your premises licence, it gives you the best chance of getting the premises licence you initially applied for. And should representations occur, they are highly experienced in negotiating them away. We also represent you before a licensing committee, if required.

Our solicitors are a friendly bunch so why not give them a call? They are always happy to have informal discussions free of charge. And will give you a clear and honesty quote for any legal advice you might need.

To choose a solicitor to speak with, click here.

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