Licensing Act 2003 - General information

The Licensing Act 2003 (external link) became law on 24 November 2005 and introduced a single licence scheme for licensing premises which:

  • Supply alcohol 
  • Provide regulated entertainment 
  • Provide late night refreshment 

Under these duties, the Council acts as the "Licensing Authority" for all relevant premises.

The Act is complex and introduced a lot of new terms and phrases for the licensing process.

The licensing objectives

The Licensing Authority operates according to four licensing objectives, to make sure that licensable activities are carried out in the public interest:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder 
  • Public safety 
  • The prevention of public nuisance 
  • The protection of children from harm

Each of the objectives is of equal importance and all applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have addressed each of the licensing objectives in relation to their application. In addition to the Act, the Secretary of State has produced formal guidance (external link) under Section 182 of the Act.

Key features of the Act

  • Flexible opening hours for premises 
  • Consideration of the impact of opening hours on local residents and businesses. 
  • A single Premises Licence authorising premises for multiple licensing activities 
  • Personal Licences relating to the supply of alcohol premises licences issued by the Council after notification and scrutiny of all applications by the police and other authorities
  • Local residents and businesses have the right to make representations about applications 

General offences

Part 7 of the Licensing Act 2003 outlines many of the general offences contained within the legislation, and is split into six distinct areas:

  • Unauthorised licensable activities 
  • Drunkenness and disorderly conduct on licensed premises 
  • Smuggled goods 
  • Children and alcohol 
  • Vehicles and trains 
  • False statements 

Crime and disorder

The Act also has an important role in the prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance, while giving people more freedom and choice in their leisure time.


The Act allows licence applicants to appeal against licensing authority decisions and allows anyone who has made a relevant representation to an application to appeal against decision.

For example a landlord could appeal against conditions attached to a licence, while a local resident or interested party who had made a relevant representation could appeal against the licence being granted at all.


Interested parties including local residents can also request a review of a particular premises licence, when problems occur which are related to the licensing objectives. Following the review the licensing authority can consider a range of responses such as suspending or revoking the licences, excluding certain licensable activities or changing conditions attached to a licence. However, it can only take these actions where they are necessary to address the problem and promote one or more of the four licensing objectives.


The Government has published a series of Licensing Act 2003 Regulations (external link) that set out the procedural requirements for hearings, applications and other related matters.

More information

Information from the Government on liquor and entertainment licensing can be obtained from the website.