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New licensing laws this April to deliver crackdown on illegal working

Local authorities in England and Wales will be under new obligations to check that people applying to hold alcohol premises licences are eligible to work in the UK under new legislation due to come into force in April.17 Mar 2017

The new regulations will implement sections of the Immigration Act, which was enacted last year, will deliver changes to UK licensing laws and come into force on 6 April.

Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, understands that the changes may not come into force in Scotland until October this year.

Under the reforms, people will be barred from holding a premises licence, which authorises licensable activities, such as selling alcohol, if they are not eligible to work in the UK. They will also not be able to hold a personal licence if they are not eligible to work in the UK.

In relation to personal licence application, local authorities will be expected to share details with the Home Office of applicants they believe have convicted immigration offences. The Home Office will have the power to give an ‘immigration objection notice’, which will need to be considered by the local authorities at a licensing hearing.

"Once in force these changes will give extra powers to the responsible authorities to promote the ‘prevention of crime and disorder’ licensing objective," licensing expert Christopher Rees-Gay of Pinsent Masons said. "It will be interesting to see how widely these powers will be used moving forward, as our experience is that issues relating to illegal working tend to be with those employed at licensed premises, rather than actual premises licence holders and personal licence holders."

Audrey Ferrie of Pinsent Masons said: "This is another administrative burden on already stretched local authorities, basically being asked to do the Home Office’s work for them. Moreover, those employees who are mostly likely to be illegal immigrants are unlikely to be in the position of applying for either personal or premises licences."