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The Transfer of a premises licence

What can I do if I cannot obtain the consent of the current premise licence holder?

Q: I have taken over a pub and have asked the Licensing Authority to transfer the Premises Licence to me. They have said that if I cannot get the consent from the current holder (who is in dispute with the freeholder) I will have to apply for a new Premises Licence. Surely there’s an easier way?

A: This issue is not new – sometimes, for whatever reason, the existing licence holder uses their consent as a ‘bargaining chip’ in whatever legal dispute he/she has with the landlord.

However, if the current holders of the licence have surrendered their lease or are in breach of their lease covenants to the point where legally they have no right to be in the premises then they cannot operate the Premises Licence and the Licensing Authority should transfer the licence to you if you do have that right. The Authority may say that since the dispute between the Freeholder and the current holder is a civil matter they do not wish to become involved – but that is no excuse for the Authority to sit on its hands.

If you have made attempts to obtain the signed transfer and have been unsuccessful, the Licensing Act makes allowances for such circumstances and when you complete the transfer form you should identify that you have requested the signed Consent but have been unsuccessful (proof of written requests for the Consent is helpful).

Do not forget to send a duplicate of the form to the local Police Licensing Officer as he can object to the transfer, although this is rare. I recommend you go back to the Licensing Authority with the request to transfer; they should not refuse if reasonable steps to obtain the consent from the current Licence Holder have proved unsuccessful and you have a right to operate the Premises Licence because of contractual arrangements you have made to be in the premises.

I would also advise you to consider seeking legal advice as you don’t want to get caught up in someone else’s dispute.

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