A leading licensing lawyer has urged English and Welsh publicans to act swiftly in renewing their personal licences, following new figures that show thousands of Scottish licences are set to be revoked after holders failed to meet Government deadlines.

Statistics collated by Scottish Licensing Law and Practice (SLLP) show that more than 10,000 licences in Scotland – approximately a quarter of all licences that were granted when the new Licensing Act came into force in 2009 - either have been or are due to be revoked, with publicans’ failure to abide by the legislation thought to be a significant factor. 

Scottish legislation requires all personal licence holders to undertake refresher training every five years in order to retain their personal licences. It means any publican whose licence was issued on or before 1 September 2009 was required to sit and pass a course by 31 August 2014 and submit evidence of competition to the Licensing Board by 30 November 2014.

The Highland local authority said around 38% of the c.639 licences that have been revoked were affected by the initial deadline, while this figure is 31% of 211 revoked licences in East Ayrshire, 46% of 1,250 revoked licences in Glasgow and 37% of 215 revoked licences in Angus.

Jack Cummins, leading licensing lawyer at Terra Firma Chambers and SLLP editor, said these figures provide a timely warning to publicans in England and Wales who must renew their personal licences early next year due to delays in the Government implementing the Deregulation Bill.

He said: “Scotland’s refresher training bus crash has been predicted by industry commentators for over a year – but the figures are even more staggering than predicted.

“It’s difficult to work out just exactly why there has been a spectacular number of failures. Some will have left the trade, of course. Others sleepwalked passed the first deadline, and I reckon that a substantial number just weren’t aware of the notification process.

“This experience hoists a red flag for the trade south of the border come the need to renew personal licences early next year.”

Gui Chipchase, licensing services manager at CPL Training, said Scotland’s deadlines affected approximately 39,000 valid personal licences that were granted when the act came into effect in 2009.

He added that it is expected the Deregulation Bill will be in place by August 2015 and if this is the case approximately 45,000 licences in England and Wales will need to be renewed before the legislation comes into force.