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Licensing news Scotland - January 2017

This month in summary

Alcohol licensing

Gambling news

Alcohol licensing

TLT to host inaugural Brewers Law and Information Symposium - January 2017

A limited number of spaces remain for our inaugural Brewers Law and Information Symposium (BLIS) a special educational and conference event on the Scottish brewing industry to be held at Drygate Brewery on Tuesday 24 January 2017.

To avoid disappointment please find the full details and register for this free event.

Happy New Year! Upcoming events for 2017

2017 looks like being a turbulent year in politics, with all the potential knock-on effects this could have for leisure operators. However, let's not start the year on a negative note! Instead, here is a focus on the events that are coming up throughout 2017 which you may want to plan in advance for: 


Possibly the biggest event of the sporting calendar is the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. The first match is 3 June, with the third test on 8 July.

Other sporting highlights throughout the year include:

  • 4 February: Start of the six nations rugby (ends 8 March)
  • 26 March: Australian Grand Prix and start of F1 season
  • 6 - 9 April: Masters golf
  • 27 May: FA Cup final
  • 3 June: Champions League final
  • 3 - 16 July: Wimbledon
  • 4 - 13 August: IAAF world championship athletics
  • 17 August: England v West Indies Test Cricket (runs to 29 September)
  • 26 October: Rugby League World Cup runs to 2 December
  • 23 November: England v Australia - start of the Ashes (runs to 8 January)


  • Hull is the 2017 UK City of Culture and events will be carrying on throughout the year to mark this. 
  • Scotland is celebrating a year of History, Heritage and architecture. Wales, meanwhile is celebrating their Year of Legends, exploring more of Wales’ distinctive history, culture, heritage and mythology.

Bank Holidays

Bank holidays this year are as follows:

  • 14 April Good Friday
  • 17 April Easter Monday
  • 1 May Early May Bank Holiday
  • 29 May Spring Bank Holiday
  • 28 August Summer Bank Holiday
  • 25 December Christmas Day
  • 26 December Boxing Day

Going to the pub is good for you

Researchers from Oxford University have established that frequenting the local pub makes people happier.  The report suggested that the social bonds and associated stimulus with engaging in networks with other people, could buffer against mental and physical illness.

The research by the University of Oxford's Experimental Psychology Department was published in the Journal of Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology.

Martin McColl Limited win appeal against Aberdeen Licensing Board 

McColl’s applied for an off-sales licence for a convenience store in Aberdeen.  NHS Grampian objected on the basis that increased availability of alcohol would increase health harms.  The licence application was refused based on the inconsistency with the objective of protecting and improving public health.  McColl’s appealed.

The Sheriff held that "if the Defenders [the Licensing Board] wish to refuse an application based on the licensing objectives then they must specify in what way the grant of the application under consideration would be inconsistent with such objectives."  In other words how that particular licence would undermine public health.  He went on to say, "they [the Licensing Board] cannot simply state that the existence of an additional licence will, in itself, be inconsistent with the licensing objectives." The Sheriff granted the licence.

An informative judgement by the Sheriff for applicants and objectors alike.

Police Scotland recruiting test purchasers

Renfrewshire & Inverclyde division of Police Scotland are advertising for young persons aged between 16 and 16.5 to work with the police to carry out test purchases for alcohol.

The advert itself provides a reminder of the need for licensees to have robust age verification policies.  Challenge 25 should be rigidly adhered to.  If you fail a test purchase, you commit a crime.  The server will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal but the designated premises manager and the licence holder could also face charges if the training and due diligence is not up to standard.

Gambling News

The Gambling Commission recommends reduction of many operating licence fees

Following a joint consultation carried out by the Gambling Commission and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the draft Gambling (Operating Licence and Single-Machine Permit Fees) (Consolidation) Regulations 2017 will be submitted for governmental approval. 

The 2017 Regulations will, if approved, see fee reductions for around 1,900 operators and  no changes to 1,000 more -  to reflect efficiencies achieved in the Commission’s operating costs. However, there will be around 75 operators who will see their fees increase. These 75 operators will be those with a gross gambling yield of over £15 million and the Commission has said that this cost increase is linked to the increased costs of developing testing strategies tailored to these operators’ set ups.  

There will also be a number of other technical changes to the fee structure including the replacement of ‘number of premises’ with gross gambling yield as the basis for fee categories across a number of licences and the sub-division of various fee categories to make sure that the Commission’s costs are recovered through fees on a fairer basis.

These changes are expected to take effect from April 2017.

Out and about 

December is a short month in Licensing Board Hearing terms but we do like to cram a lot in!

Stephen, Niall and Michael appeared at Stirling, Fife, East Ayrshire, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and Lanark Licensing Boards.  
Stephen also found time to run training for Police Scotland at Tulliallan, a personal licence holders training course and judge awards for the Scottish Wholesale Association. Interventions, meetings and site visits added to the mileage not to mention the plethora of Christmas dinners and party nights (for research purposes of course).

Stephen's Twitter @LicensingLaws

Niall's Twitter @niall_hassard

Michael'sTwtter @michaelmcdx

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at January 2017. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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