Overview of the Licensing Act 2003

Premises Licences

A Premises Licence will be required for any premises where any of the licensable activities described above take place. Where a Premises Licence includes the sale of alcohol the operating schedule, which forms part of the application, must specify a designated premises supervisor (who must have a Personal Licence – see below). A designated premises supervisor is the main point of contact, at all times, for the premises.

Existing licensees can apply to convert their current licenses into a ‘new’ Premises Licence. This special arrangement is known as ‘Grandfather rights’. Licensees can, at the same time, also make a separate application to vary the terms of their existing licence perhaps in respect of hours or the provision of entertainment. Any variations will be subject to possible representations (see below). Premises Licences will continue for the life of the business unless there are significant changes.

Frequently asked questions about Premises Licences(pdf, 111KB).

Personal Licences

Anyone supplying alcohol or authorising its sale must hold a Personal Licence. Some premises may need a number of people with Personal Licences. Apart from those people who are automatically granted a Personal Licence as part of the changeover to the new system, all Personal Licence holders will generally have to be: over 18, have no specified convictions, and have a recognised licensing qualification.

Personal Licences will have to be applied for from the Licensing Authority in whose area the applicant lives, not from the area in which he/she works. The Personal Licence will last for ten years and can be used by the holder in any premises holding a Premises Licence.

Frequently asked questions about Personal Licences(pdf, 107KB).

Qualifying Clubs (Club Premises Certificates)

Most non profit-making clubs will be able to apply for a Club Premises Certificate. Supplying alcohol in such premises will not need a Premises Licence or a Personal Licence holder. However, only certain qualifying clubs can follow this route, and generally these are non-profit making clubs such as The British Legion, working men’s clubs, sports clubs, etc.

Frequently asked questions about Qualifying Clubs(pdf, 99KB).

Temporary or Occasional Events

If a proposed temporary event includes a licensable activity in premises that do not hold a Premises Licence, a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) will be required. This will also be the case where a Premises Licence is in force, but not for the activity proposed or time required.

A TEN can be issued for events where no more than 499 people are likely to attend at any one time, or where the event lasts less than 96 hours. An application for a TEN in the prescribed form should be sent to the Council (with the correct fee) and a copy to the Police at least 10 days before the function. If the Police do not object to the function, it can go ahead. Someone who holds a Personal Licence will be able to hold up to 50 Temporary Events annually, but only 12 times in any calendar year in respect of any particular premises. Non Personal Licence holders can hold up to 5 in any calendar year.

Frequently asked questions about Permitted Temporary Events(pdf, 106KB).

Review of a licence or applications (objections)

One of the aims of the new Licensing Act is to make the licensing system more local, accessible and accountable. Whilst there are special arrangements for the grant of successor Licences under ‘Grandfather Rights’, all new licence applications or variations will be subject to the requirement for locally posted notices. A person living or working in the vicinity, or any body representing them, will be able to make representations (object). Such people or bodies can also apply for a review of an existing Premises Licence at any time where there are breaches of the licensing objectives attributed to the premises and patrons. A Licensing Sub Committee (made up of at least three councillors) will have to consider the application, taking into account any conflict with the four licensing objectives.

Other changes

The current exemption allowing liquor licensed premises to provide entertainment with up to two musicians (section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964) will disappear. The new Premises Licence can include entertainment. However, the applicant for a Premises Licence will have to include this information in the operating schedule for the premises.

I have an existing licence, what happens next?

If, on or before the first appointed day of 7 February 2005 you held an existing liquor, Public Entertainment, Cinema, Theatre, and Night Cafe licence, then you will be able to apply for a conversion to a new Premises Licence and apply for a Personal Licence under special arrangements. Your new Premises Licences will come into effect on the second appointed day, which is likely to be in November 2005, however, this is subject to confirmation from central government. Existing liquor and Public Entertainment licences will cease from this date. If you want to vary the terms of your existing licence perhaps in respect of hours or the provision of entertainment you will need to make a separate variation application. It would be sensible to make both applications, conversion and variation, at the same time. Any variations will be subject to possible representations (objections) which can be viewed under making representations.

More information

For licences in the Richmond borough contact The Magistrates Court, Parkshot, Richmond TW9 2RF or telephone 020 8948 2101.

If you have a query about a public entertainment licence or you wish to apply for a variation to it or make an application for a new annual or occasional licence you should contact the Council's Licensing Team:

Contact the Licensing Team

If you have any questions or comments please contact Licensing


2nd Floor
Civic Centre
44 York Street

Email: licensing@merton.gov.uk

Updated: 18 June 2019