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Licensing news Scotland - May 2017

This month in summary

Licensing news

Gambling News

Licensing News

Alert – fundamental changes to alcohol licensing from 15 May 2017

Monday 15 May saw another raft of changes to Scottish alcohol laws.  On the face of it, you could be forgiven for seeing the changes as technicalities, but discounting them as such would be a mistake.  Significant changes to the scope of the legislation, in particular the new "fit and proper person test", will undoubtedly have a significant effect on licensing applications not just in theory but in practice. 

The main changes are summarised as follows:

  • The Licensing objective of protecting children from harm has been amended to "protecting children and young persons from harm". This removes any doubt regarding, for example an underage sale to a 16 or 17 year-old.
  • The introduction of the fit and proper person test is arguably the most significant change to the legislation since it commenced in 2009.  Not being fit and proper, in the opinion of the licensing board, is now a ground for refusal in respect of a new licence application, a transfer application, and it is a ground for revocation in a premises licence review and personal licence review. At first blush the changes afford the licensing board a wide margin of appreciation to consider all manner of allegations against a licence holder or licence applicant and only time will tell regarding how licensing boards wield this new power.*
  • The procedure in relation to notifications of relevant offences and foreign offences has been clarified to confirm that the board must, upon receipt of a notice from the Chief Constable that does not include a specific recommendation, decide whether to hold a review or take no further action. This applies to both premises licence and personal licence holders.
  • A new offence will see an adult convicted for buying and supplying alcohol to a child or young person for consumption in a public place.
  • Angostura bitters now falls within the definition of alcohol
  • Licensing Boards must now produce annual reports including financial reports
  • Licensing Standards Officers have been handed new powers including the power to report personal licence holders to the Board for conduct inconsistent with the licensing objectives, this report will trigger a personal licence review.

*A further pending change (which has not yet been commenced) will soon see spent convictions become relevant.  This coupled with the fit and proper person test may see a raft of review requests and objections to licence applications.

Alcohol related deaths in Scotland fall, reports the Economist


The economist graph


Much media "air time" and column inches are rightly devoted to highlighting the on-going problems with alcohol health harm in the UK and in Scotland in particular.  It does at times appear that matters are perennially getting worse but as the Economist recently highlighted, alcohol related deaths in Scotland have been falling since the early noughties.  The full article can be accessed here.     

Gambling News

Almost half of UK firms faced cyber breaches or attacks in the last 12 months

Prior to the high profile cyber attack on the NHS, the Gambling Commission flagged how gambling companies, probably unsurprisingly given the customer records and account details held, are increasingly becoming targets of cyber crime.

Of particular importance, however, is to note that for anything except the most minor of incidents, there is a duty to notify the Gambling Commission of any information security breaches as a Key Event.

Any breach of information security that adversely affects the confidentiality of customer data or prevents customers from accessing their accounts for longer than 24 hours must be notified, along with any of the following:

  • infection by viruses or malicious software
  • theft or damage of computer equipment
  • attacks by unauthorised outsiders resulting in network penetration
  • unauthorised access (internal or external)
  • unauthorised or accidental disclosure of customer data
  • staff or third party misuse of customer data
  • denial of services attacks
  • customer impersonated fraud (identity theft). 

Further information can be found on the Gambling Commission website.

Advertising Standards Agency publish guidance for non-broadcast adverts for age restricted products

The guidance outlines the 'where's and how's' regarding age-sensitive products and media placement rules.   This of course applies to gambling and liquor advertising.

Ads for age-restricted products and services must not appear in media:

  • for children (under-16s) or children and young people (under-18s); and
  • where children or children and young people make up a significant proportion – more than 25% – of the audience.

To ensure they do not fall foul of the rules marketers must hold audience data and demonstrate they have undertaken due diligence about their audience demographic.  Guidance is available in full.

Out and about

April was the last outing for Scotland's licensing boards and committees with the Local Authority Elections taking place on 4 May. We bid adieu to and represented clients at the following: Angus; Dumfries; Glasgow; Edinburgh; Fife and Falkirk Licensing Boards.

In a busy month Niall and Michael met clients across two days in London whilst Stephen and Caroline did the same in Bristol.

Stephen McGowan was also elected as vice-president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Society (aka The Ben).

Niall's Twitter @niall_hassard

Stephen's Twitter @LicensingLaws

Michael's Twtter @michaelmcdx

Caroline's Twitter @ckploudon


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

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