Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith Partner

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, Soho House Group


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

I gained my LLB (Hons) 2:1 from Sheffield University and qualified as a solicitor in November 1992. In 2020 leading legal directory, Legal 500, ranked me in their prestigious 'Hall of Fame' for licensing

I have been a licensing solicitor here at Poppleston Allen now since 1997. After being made partner in 2002 I succeeded founder Jeremy Allen as managing partner in 2006; splitting my time between developing the firm and advising clients.

In April 2018 I handed over the managing partner reigns to Lisa Sharkey, allowing me to concentrate fully on helping licensed operators solve their alcohol licensing problems.

How I can help you:

No matter what alcohol licensing problems you are facing, I 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 I’ve been involved in over 170 licencing reviews during the last 20 or so years.


“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 on holiday!”

Sophie Bickerstaff, Pop-Up Event Manager, Soho House Group

“A huge thank you for all the work you have done in securing the Licence for York House. 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, MD, Clifford Bown & Son LTD

"I can truly say on behalf of my brothers that we respect and appreciate all the efforts and advice you gave us during this process and the commitment you showed in getting the result we wanted. Despite being married to a solicitor, I can honestly say you give your colleagues a good name especially in our experience we've had with some of them

Check out suits when you get chance and you will understand why we call you Harvey Spector"

- Eddie Odudu, Co-owner, UMS Events Limited 

"Jonathan Smith has an encyclopaedic knowledge of licensing and a forensic ability to absorb, dissect and present information."

  • - Chambers & Partners legal directory research

"Valued for his intellectual capacity and sheer graft”

  • - The Legal 500 research directory

Licensing Examples: Here are three examples showing how I have solved three very different alcohol licensing problems. I have worked on literally 1000s matters so if you would like an example of something that is not covered here, please contact me on 0115 953 8500 or 07768 845 695.

Nightclub Example

Following a serious knife incident, Gatecrasher - one of the largest capacity night clubs in Birmingham – had its premises licence revoked; meaning the club had 21 days to appeal the decision or permanently lose its licence to sell alcohol.

During this period The Deltic Group wanted to buy Gatecrasher, but were nervous about acquiring a night club that didn’t have a licence to sell alcohol.

I immediately transferred the revoked premises licence into The Deltic Group name, lodged an appeal against the revocation and started negotiating with the police, Gatecrasher and the licensing authorities.

At a further licensing review, I explained to the licensing committee how The Deltic Group would solve the issues that Gatecrasher was experiencing and would, ultimately, run a successful nightclub that operated within the four Licensing Objectives.

The police and licensing authorities compromised the revocation appeal, allowed Deltic Group to run the nightclub, which was subsequently rebranded as Pryzm after a £1.4m investment.

Due Diligence for a £525m acquisition

In the largest hotel deal in the UK in 2017, investment firm Aprirose wanted to acquire the 26-strong QHotels portfolio £525m.

For this to complete, Aprirose and its investors needed assuring that no licences contained conditions or impending enforcement issues that could affect future trading and profits of the hotels.  

I managed a team of four to carry out due-diligence on all licences at the 26 hotels; a job made more challenging as a confidentiality clause meant that we couldn’t speak to any local authorities.

I also advised on the contracts and the provisions and terms & conditions of the sale and purchase agreement. The acquisition completed on time and without a hitch.

A trade body: Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH) decided to introduce a Late Night Levy (LNL), a policy to raise revenue from licensed operators permitted to sell alcohol in a specific area between midnight and 6.00am.

I investigated the consultation process and established that the LBTH had consulted incorrectly, and arguably, the terms of the consultation were misleading.

Working with Licensing Barrister Sarah Clover of Kings Chambers, I challenged the introduction of the LNL in the High Court via a Judicial Review. At this point the LBTH  decided not to introduce the LNL on their appointed date. Furthermore, the LBTH needed to re-consult on the introduction of the LNL.

Working with the trade:

I regularly speak at trade events and licensing conferences. I also write articles for the national licensing press. On top of that I am a:

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

Some national chain clients: 

  • The Deltic Group, 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

How to contact me:

If you have an alcohol licensing issue that you’d like to talk through feel free to give me a call or email me. I never charge new clients for the first 30 minutes of my time. And many simple questions are answered within those 30 minutes.

You can contact me on 0115 953 8500 or 07768 845 695. Or you can email me using

Contact Jonathan