It’s been a few years now since the introduction of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, which means anyone who gained a personal licence at that time will soon need refresher training. Not doing so could jeopardise your licence, and your livelihood.
by Stephen McGowan
Readers of SLR may be able to cast their mind back to the heady, final days of operation of their licensed premises under the old Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976. One of the requirements before the new Act came live on 1st September 2009 was for persons working in the trade who wished to be named on premises licences to apply for their own “personal licence” and a great many of these were issued in the gaderene rush prior to the “big bang” of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. Few will recall, however, that in being granted a personal licence, there is a need to update or re-do the training course which underpins their personal licence.
The 2005 Act requires personal licence holders to undergo what we might shortly term as a “refresher course” five years after the issue of their personal licence. And now, that five year deadline is firmly on the horizon.
There is real confusion about what the refresher course is, and when it needs to be done. I sit on the Scottish Government panel which has been discussing such matters over the last several months and progress has and is being made here. The exact specification of the refresher course has been developed in partnership with the Government and various trade bodies and others such as the police and health lobby.
The detail of the course itself will be heralded at a special event at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh on 4th March 2013. Awarding bodies such as BIIAB will start to roll the courses out just as soon as possible thereafter and we may see people taking the course from summer 2013.
As to the timing of all this and the five year deadline, the earliest that a personal licence could have possibly been issued by any licensing board is in March 2008. There is no way of knowing who was granted the first ever personal licence in Scotland, although I happen to know the person who was granted the first ever personal licence from Glasgow – me! So I am caught up in this milieu myself.
I should make it clear that the date when the training course was sat or passed is irrelevant. What matters is the date of the personal licence itself. Even now I come across confusion as to what is a training certificate and what is a personal licence. An easy answer is that a personal licence has a photo on it, a training certificate does not.
So when does this refresher training need to be taken? The Act requires it to be done within five years of the date of issue of your personal licence (there is a three month grace period to produce the certificate to the licensing board). The Scottish Government has indicated that it is advising licensing boards that the “date of issue” shall be taken as 1st September 2009 for all personal licences issued before that date, including mine. Using myself as an example, my five years would be up as of 1st September 2014, and with the three month grace my deadline for producing the refresher certificate to the Glasgow Board will be 1st December 2014. This will be the date for a huge number of personal licence holders across Scotland. If your personal licence was issued after 1st September 2009, then you should work out your five years and three months accordingly.
It is very important to note that the 1st December 2014 is a cut off to PRODUCE the refresher certificate to the Board. If that is not done then the Board has no option but to revoke your personal licence and that may be catastrophic, especially if you are named as premises manager, as it would mean alcohol sales would have to cease immediately until you name another manager. It will not be good enough to have simply sat the course by 1st December 2014 – you need to put a copy of the refresher certificate in the hands of the board by then. I would recommend everyone sit the refresher course as soon as possible, do not leave this to the last minute.
Although there is an obligation on the licensing board to send a reminder to every personal licence holder regarding their own personal deadline, not receiving the reminder is no excuse. It is entirely up to each personal licence holder to make sure they sit the refresher training and send the certificate to the licensing board by their own deadline.
Expect much more clarity on the exact details of the refresher course following the launch on 4th March 2013. I’ll be sitting my own refresher course just as soon as courses are available – you should too.