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Licensing news Scotland - February 2017

TLT’s monthly newsletter, covering up-to-date stories of interest to operators in the licensed hospitality, retail, leisure and gambling industries in Scotland.

This month in summary:

Licensing News

TLT's inaugural Brewers Law and Information Symposium hailed as great success

TLT's Brewers Law and Information Symposium on 24 January 2017 (BLIS) – was hailed as a success with industry figures welcoming the mix of talks from brewers, including David McDowall (Brewdog) and Paul Fallen (Fallen Brewery), and information on legal topics ranging from how to protect your brewery's intellectual property to how to license a pop up event.

BLIS was opened by Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie who announced that he will work to establish a cross party group with brewers and other members of the licensed trade to help promote a positive relationship between all stakeholders. The event was then closed with a round table discussing a range of subjects from the age old cans versus bottles debate to the future of the brewing industry.

Licensed trade fears over increase to business rates increase

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association has highlighted the licensed trade's concerns over increases to business rates. 

Following a review of property values across Scotland, it was found that a vast number of properties had increased in value thereby triggering an increase in the business rates payable to the local authority. Some reports suggest that businesses could see their rates increased by over £1,000. It was feared that this will put real pressure on a licensed trade that is already struggling to deal with other law changes such as the lowering of the drink driving limit. 

The increase in rates would also lead to an increase to the annual fee payable to licensing boards as part of the premises licence and the business' subscription to Sky TV and similar services. 

Following lobbying from the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, British Hospitality Association and Scottish Tourism Alliance, Derek MacKay MSP has agreed to cap the limit of any rates increase to pubs, hotels and restaurant premises at 12.5% which will bring welcome relief to many businesses across the country.

Daniel Johnson MSP announces potential legislation to give greater protection to shop workers from assault

At the Scottish Grocers Federation's Retail Crime seminar Daniel Johnson MSP announced that he will consult on legislation that will offer specific statutory protection to retail workers who are assaulted in the course of their work or are hindered or obstructed when performing a statutory duty, e.g. refusing the sale of alcohol.

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said “we can see that shoplifting is a growing problem for convenience stores and that physical and verbal abuse are day to day realities for many stores. Increasingly retailers are being asked to implement legislation within their stores, particularly around age verification. It’s when they try to do this that they suffer from physical and verbal abuse. Shop staff need extra protection and we are delighted to be working with Daniel Johnson MSP to look at bringing forward legislation to the Scottish Parliament to make shops safer for staff and customers.”

The Licensing team at TLT are providing expert legal advice on the legislative process.

Gambling News

Gambling Commission announces consultation on changes to its enforcement strategy

The Gambling Commission is consulting on ways that it use its enforcement powers to make sure that operators are putting consumers at the core of their business. This reflects changes made by the Gambling Commission to licence conditions and codes of practice. Now they are looking at how to bring their enforcement strategy into line.

Key proposals including putting access to all tools, including licence review (both of the operator and personal management licences), on an equal footing as well as higher penalties for breaches, particularly where we see systemic and repeated failings. This is against a backdrop where Sarah Harrison, the Gambling Commission Chief Executive has warned that she will not accept a blanket approach of reaching settlements, with higher fines, licence reviews and ultimately revocations of licences all being considered for offences, especially repeat offences, where there is either money laundering or problem gambling involved.
It is important that operators respond to the consultation to highlight the need to avoid burdensome regulation. Responses are to be submitted by 21 April 2017.

Horseracing Betting Levy reform announced

On the 14 January, the government announced that it intends to introduce a reformed Horseracing Betting Levy in April 2017.

The principle purpose of the reform is to ensure that any gambling business that takes bets from customers located in Britain on horseraces held in Britain will be liable to pay 10% of gross profits from such bets. The first £500,000 of gross profit will be exempt for the purpose of the calculations.

The stated intention is to ensure that regardless of the location of the operator, a levy is paid on all bets by British customers on British horseracing events.

For the short-term, until early 2018, the Horseracing Betting Levy Board will administer the changes. They can be contacted on hblb@hblb.org.uk.

Out and about

January seemed to bring with it a healthy number of licensing Board meetings with licensing boards getting back into the swing of things after the festive break. Between them Stephen, Niall and Michael appeared at Boards across the length and breadth of Scotland from Aberdeen to South Lanarkshire (Lanark and East Kilbride divisions) including stops in-between such as North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Falkirk, and West Lothian Licensing Boards.

Stephen's Twitter @LicensingLaws

Niall's Twitter @niall_hassard

Michael's Twitter @michaelmcdx

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

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