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Acquiring a Bar

What licensing enquiries should I make?

Q:  I am acquiring a local bar freehold and I just wondered whether there are any specific licensing enquiries I should make prior to taking on a site or any due diligence in respect of the Premises Licence.

A:  You should carry out a licensing due diligence check on the premises prior to acquiring it, including a review of the existing Premises Licence.

Speak with the existing operator of the business and ask them if they have had any issues with any of the authorities or with residents in the area. Notwithstanding the advice and information they give you, speak directly with the Licensing Officer at the Local Authority to see if they are aware of any issues which may have arisen in the past, for example, if there had been a Review or other enforcement action in relation to the premises and its Premises Licence.

I would also ask the Licensing Authority for a full and up-to-date copy of the Premises Licence, including the licensed layout plans, and I would suggest you check and review these carefully to make sure that the permissions and conditions attached to the Premises Licence are appropriate for your intended operation of the site. Check that the layout of the licensing plans are in line with the current layout of the premises. Also speak with the local Police Licensing Officer and Environmental Health Officer, who should be able to advise you in relation to any history or incidents of crime and disorder, nuisance, noise issues, complaints or antisocial behaviour.

You should also check the solvency history of the existing Premises Licence holder. You need to do this because if any of the licence holders become insolvent, then the licence will have lapsed. If it is an individual, make sure that they are still alive and have all their faculties, as a licence in the name of an individual will lapse upon the death or incapacity of that individual.

Taking over a licensed premises always carries a degree of risk and it is advisable to engage legal representation with regards to your acquisition

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