COVID-19: law and licensing updates


Liquor licensing

A number of licensing provisions were introduced by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020.

These changes will only be in force temporarily. They are expected to end on 1 October 2022. This may change depending on the pandemic.

1. Premises Licence Holders

The 2020 Act has a number of provisions in it that will be helpful for Premises Licence Holders to know about.

1.1 Change of the Designated Premises Manager (DPM)

Normally, if a DPM leaves or dies, the Premises Licence Holder has 7 days to notify the Board and then 6 weeks from the day of resignation or death to submit an application to change the DPM.

Under the 2020 Act, Premises Licence Holders have 28 days in which to intimate the departure of the DPM and a period of 3 months from the day of departure to submit a variation form to appoint a new DPM, if there are reasons relating to the Coronavirus that mean the normal timescales cannot be met.

1.3 Premises Licence ceasing to have effect

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 prescribes that when a premises ceases to be used for the sale of alcohol, then the Premises Licence ceases to have affect. The 2020 Act sets out that if the premises is closed temporarily due to the outbreak, then the Premises Licence will be considered to remain in force.

2. Personal Licences

We are aware that a number of Personal Licence Holders are struggling to undertake the required training for their refresher training or renewal. The following paragraphs explain the relaxation of the rules.

2.1 Personal Licence Holder – Renewal

A Personal Licence is valid for 10 years from the day it is granted. Every 10 years you must apply to renew your licence. This is different from the 5 yearly refresher training.

If you have applied for your Personal Licence renewal and we have not yet determined that application before its expiry date, your licence will continue to be valid for a further six months from the date of expiry. We will, however, endeavour to have all licences determined in the normal time frame.

The normal deadline for applying for renewal of your Personal Licence is three months before its expiry (for example if it expires on 30 April, you must apply by 31 January). The new provisions allow the Board to accept applications for renewal until the day before the licence expires so long as the Board are satisfied the licence holder was unable to apply within the usual time scale for a reason relating to Coronavirus.

2.2 Personal Licence Holder – Refresher

Every five years, a Personal Licence Holder must undertake refresher training. If they fail to do so and fail to provide evidence within three months after the end of the five year period, their licence is revoked.

For example, if a licence was granted on 1st January 2015, the licence holder must carry out refresher training by 1st January 2020 and then must notify the Board of the training being completed by submitting a certificate by 1st April 2020. If no evidence is received, the licence is revoked.

The 2020 Act, however, permits Licensing Boards to extend the period available to people to undertake their refresher training if for reasons related to the Coronavirus that person could not do the training in the normal time. Your licence will continue to have effect in that extended period. During that extended period you must undertake the training and then produce evidence of it to the Board. However, the Board has the power to extend the period more than once should the pandemic continue for a prolonged period of time. If you are unable to undertake training for reasons relating to Coronavirus, please contact us to discuss an extension.


We are continuing to accept applications by post and by email. If it is sent by post, it will be scanned to us by facilities management support. We will try our very best to have applications granted in good time.