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Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) LLP and Pitmans LLP merged on 1 December 2018 to become BDB Pitmans LLP. More details can be found here
31 January 2019

What happens if I supply alcohol at my company’s premises without the necessary licences and permissions?

This article was originally published in 2015 by Pitmans LLP.

All premises supplying alcohol need to have a valid Premises Licence. This includes pubs, bars, hotels, restaurants and cafes. The applicant is able to choose the days and hours during which he wishes to be authorised to carry on activities at the premises for which a licence is sought, subject to approval from the necessary authorities. A Premises Licence can be transferred should the original applicant leave and a new entity take up occupation.

If drinks are provided free of charge as part of an overall service (eg a complimentary drink given to customers waiting in a hairdressers), a Premises Licence is still required. A Temporary Event Notice allows for the holding of a small scale one off licensable activity without the need to gain a full Premises Licence.

In the Premises Licence, a designated premises supervisor must be named who must also hold a Personal Licence. Others serving alcohol at the premises must be authorised by the personal licence holder.

The penalties for serving alcohol without the appropriate licences are a fine of up to £20,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

Planning permission for use of the premises to serve alcohol also needs to be in place and the terms of any lease must permit such use.


Before you supply alcohol from your company’s premises make sure you have the requisite licences, planning permission and leases in place.

If unsure, consult a legal advisor in order to ensure that the appropriate documentation is in place.

What to do now?

  • Make an application for the premises and personal licence and any other licences or certificates that may be relevant.
  • If taking over an existing licensed premises, ensure that the required licences are in place and arrange for them to be transferred.
  • Ensure you have a designated premises supervisor.
  • Correspond with a planning consultant.
  • Ensure you have the requisite planning permission in place.
  • Enter into the relevant correspondence with the responsible authorities.
  • Consider whether any leases need to be varied.
  • Take legal advice to ensure the correct procedures and timescales are followed.

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