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Scottish alcohol licensing 'fit and proper' test in force from next month

The 'fit and proper' test for those applying for a licence to sell alcohol in Scotland will be reintroduced on 15 May, according to a commencement order published by the Scottish Government.24 Apr 2017

The commencement order is the sixth such order published in order to give effect to provisions in the 2015 Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act, and so underlines the "piecemeal approach" taken by the Scottish Government towards licensing law, according to Audrey Ferrie of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind

"The statutory instrument brings into force some, but by no means all, of the proposed amendments to the 2005 Licensing (Scotland) Act enacted by the 2015 Act," she said.

"It is yet another example of the piecemeal approach to licensing legislation by the Scottish Government which highlights, more than ever, the need for consolidating legislation. The law is confused and confusing even for experts, so what chance does the trade have?" she said.

The 'fit and proper' test for licensees allows police to present more information to licensing boards about applicants than is presently the case. Currently, information must be restricted to that relating to serious and organised crime. The new 'fit and proper' test is, however, narrower to that in place before 2009, as it restricts any assessment of the licence holder or applicant's fitness to being "with regard to the five licensing objectives".

The five licensing objectives are prevention of crime and disorder; securing public safety; preventing public nuisance; protecting and improving public health; and protecting children and young people from harm.

The new test will apply to applications for personal or premises licences, applications for transfer of premises licences and applications for renewal of personal licences received by a Scottish licensing board on or after 15 May 201; but not to applications received by a Scottish licensing board before this date. It will also be a ground for review of a premises licence.