Interested parties have been invited to submit written evidence about the effectiveness of the Licensing Act 2003. A Select Committee is currently undertaking post-legislative scrutiny of the Act and will report back by 31 March 2017. If you would like to give your views, these required by 2 September 2016.

The issues to be addressed by the committee, and on which you might like to comment are:

Licensing Objectives

  • Are the four existing licensing objectives the right ones for licensing authorities to promote?
  • Should the protection of health and wellbeing be an additional objective?
  • Should the policies of licensing authorities do more to facilitate the enjoyment by the public of all licensable activities?
  • Should access to and enjoyment of licensable activities by the public, including community activities, be an additional licensing objective?
  • Should there be any other additional objectives?

The balance between rights and responsibilities

  • Has the Live Music Act 2012 done enough to relax the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 where they imposed unnecessarily strict requirements?
  • Are the introductions of late night levies and Early Morning Restriction Orders effective, and if not, what alternatives are there?
  • Does the Licensing Act now achieve the right balance between the rights of those who wish to sell alcohol and provide entertainment and the rights of those who wish to object?
  • Do all the responsible authorities (such as Planning, and Health & Safety), who all have other regulatory powers, engage effectively in the licensing regime, and if not, what could be done?
  • Do other stakeholders, including local communities, engage effectively in the licensing regime, and if not, what could be done?

Licensing and local strategy

Licensing is only one part of the strategy that local government has to shape its communities. The Government states that the Act “is being used effectively in conjunction with other interventions as part of a coherent national and local strategy.”

  • Do you agree?
  • Should licensing policy and planning policy be integrated more closely to shape local areas and address the proliferation of licensed premises? How could it be done?

Crime, disorder and public safety

  • Are the subsequent amendments made by policing legislation achieving their objects?
  • Do they give the police the powers they need to prevent crime and disorder and promote the licensing objectives generally?
  • Are police adequately trained to use their powers effectively and appropriately?
  • Should sales of alcohol airside at international airports continue to be exempt from the application of the Act? Should sales on other forms of transport continue to be exempt?

Licensing procedure

The Act was intended to simplify licensing procedure; instead it has become increasingly complex.

  • What could be done to simplify the procedure?
  • What could be done to improve the appeal procedure, including listing and costs? Should appeal decisions be reported to promote consistency? Is there a case for a further appeal to the Crown Court? Is there a role for formal mediation in the appeal process?

Sale of alcohol for consumption at home (the off-trade)

  • Given the increase in off-trade sales, including online sales, is there a case for reform of the licensing regime applying to the off-trade?
  • How effectively does the regime control supermarkets and large retailers, under-age sales, and delivery services?
  • Should the law be amended to allow licensing authorities more specific control over off-trade sales of “super-strength” alcohol?


  • Should alcohol pricing and taxation be used as a form of control, and if so, how?
  • Should the Government introduce minimum unit pricing in England?
  • Does the evidence that MUP would be effective need to be “conclusive” before MUP could be introduced, or can the effect of MUP be gauged only after its introduction?

Fees and costs associated with the Licensing Act 2003

  • Do licence fees need to be set at national level? Should London, and the other major cities to which the Government proposes to devolve greater powers, have the power to set their own licence fees?

International Comparisons

  • Is there a correlation between the strictness of the regulatory regime in other countries and the level of alcohol abuse?
  • Are there aspects of the licensing laws of other countries, and other UK jurisdictions, that might usefully be considered for England and Wales?

The Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 took evidence on 12 July from the Local Government Association (LGA) and a range of local authorities on the effectiveness of the legislation. The session examined the Local Government view and experience of the Licensing Act 2003 and its implementation. A specialist advisor, barrister Sarah Glover, has been appointed to the Select Committee to assist with the enquiry, to help the witnesses and give interpretation of oral and written evidence to support the Committee during the drafting of the report.

We will keep you informed of developments as they unfold.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.