It is feared that thousands of pubs could be forced to close by the end of the year because of the chaos caused by red tape involved in the UK's complex new licensing laws. The problem has reached crisis point in Westminster in central London, where council chiefs fear it could take seven years to licence all its pubs. So far out of 3,600 pubs only 433 have made applications and 103 of those were filled out incorrectly. Every pub has to complete forms by August 7 after the Licensing Act 2003 transferred the awarding of licences from courts to local authorities. Westminster has warned that licences must be in place by November 24 or pubs will be operating illegally. It is now organising an emergency meeting with solicitors representing local landlords. Camden council in north-west London has received just two applications despite having 1,700 pubs in its area. The Local Government Association admitted applications across the country had been "scarily low". If pub owners fail to get their applications in correctly by August 7 they lose their "grandfather rights". Pub chains, warns The Business, could see a brace of profits warnings if the crisis continues. The Business 19/06/05 page 1