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Licensing law

Experienced Licensing lawyers

The Eversheds Sutherland Licensing team is recognised for offering a comprehensive service with nationwide capability. Our experience, particularly for advising on matters under the Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Act 2005, means that we can offer you whatever you need in terms of licensing advice, wherever you are located.

Experience in Licensing legal advice

We have experience of advising clients from a wide range of business sectors. As well as acting for leisure, hospitality, gambling and retail operators we also regularly advise financial institutions, insolvency practitioners and real estate investors. Our licensing lawyers are well placed to work for national and international businesses and have the ability to provide cross-jurisdictional advice, especially in such areas as online gambling operations. Eversheds Sutherland’s international presence enables us to provide legal support ‘on the ground’ throughout Europe and beyond.

We pride ourselves on working hard to understand the commercial objectives of our clients and getting to know your business. We aim to add value whilst providing a quality bespoke service which is tailored to your specific needs.

Experience in Licensing law

Our Licensing team use their knowledge and experience to deliver practical and commercial solutions to our clients’ licensing and gambling law challenges. We understand the importance for all clients of ready access to legal advice and the speed of delivery and are committed to providing this. Not only do we provide a complete licensing offering, but clients also come to us because we work closely with our colleagues in other practice groups such as Real Estate and Corporate/Commercial law to provide a seamless service.

We can offer our bespoke Eversheds Sutherland Licensing Management System, which provides clients with multiple sites the ability to view copies of all their current licenses and plans as well as an ability to monitor the up-to-date progress of applications.

Licensing legal advice - areas of experience

Below are the main areas of expertise we can advise you on in relation to licensing law.

Gambling act 2005

Premises licence and gambling permit applications

Eversheds Sutherland licensing team has a wealth of experience of acting for clients across the gambling sector and consequently can assist with all premises licence and gambling permit needs. In particular we can assist with obtaining:-

  • premises licence
  • casinos (with converted and new casinos under gambling act 2005)
  • betting offices
  • track betting offices
  • bingo clubs
  • adult gaming centres
  • family entertainment centre permits
  • licensed premises gaming machine permits
  • prize gaming permits
  • club machine/club gaming permits

Our legal experts can deal with your basic licensing applications or more complex contentious matters. We can administer the complete application process for you or work with in-house licensing teams to provide support as and when required.

Gambling commission personal/operators licence applications

The majority of non-remote UK gambling operators (save for a limited number of exceptions) are required to be licensed by the Gambling Commission. Other businesses providing back of house facilities for gambling in the UK will also require Operating Licences from the Gambling Commission such as gaming machines and gambling software, developers manufacturers and suppliers as well as betting intermediaries.

Remote Gambling Operators who have at least one piece of Remote Gambling Equipment located within the UK will also require an Operating Licence. However, the legal framework is expected to change in this regard in 2014. The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill is currently being considered in Parliament and on its implementation any operator who provides gambling facilities or advertises the provision of gambling in Great Britain will need to hold a Remote Gambling Operating Licence from the Gambling Commission. This requirement will be regardless of whether the operator is based in Great Britain or has any equipment based here. Accordingly those operators who are currently licensed in ‘white listed’ states will additionally need to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission as well as satisfying their local licensing requirements.

The Gambling Act 2005 also requires certain individuals within a licensed business to hold Personal Licences where they for example hold a Key Management Role or perform a Gambling function (e.g. Casino Croupier).

The process for obtaining new licences from the Gambling Commission can be complicated and requires considerable disclosure of information. Our experience of assisting clients with such applications and dealing with the Gambling Commission is extensive. The Eversheds Sutherland Licensing team work hard with our clients to ensure that the application process is kept as straightforward and as painless as possible.

Advocacy and representation

We have experienced advocates who can provide representation for clients before all licensing hearings whether contested premises licences/variations or review proceedings before Local Authority Licensing Committees, or on appeal in the Magistrates Court. Eversheds Sutherland Licensing team can also provide representation at hearings before the Gambling Commission and Gambling Appeals Tribunal.

Gambling Act 2005 Large and Small casino expertise

We are very proud of our expertise in advising clients in respect of the casino industry. Not only do our licensing lawyers have extensive experience of acting for casino operators in respect of applications for the new Large and Small casinos available under the Gambling Act 2005, we have also provided advice to developers and landlords looking to work with operators to accommodate new casinos with development schemes.

Gambling Act 2005 operational compliance

Compliance with the statutory requirement of the Gambling Act 2005 and the requirements of the Gambling Commission and Local Authority Licensing Authorities can be onerous.

We can help gambling operators to ensure that they have the appropriate policies and procedures to comply with the Gambling Commission’s Guide Lines Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (“LCCP’s”) which apply to all operating licences. For example, we can help to draft social responsibility policies, self exclusion and customer interaction policies, and procedures to protect minors from accessing gambling premises.

We can also advise on compliance with key event reporting and regulatory returns.

In respect of individual premises Eversheds Sutherland licensing team have experience of advising on conformity of premises layouts and operations in accordance with the requirements of premises licence mandatory conditions. We can also advise in respect of issues raised by local authorities licensing enforcement officers.

We are also able to provide bespoke training to staff on compliance requirements as well as a general overview of the Gambling Act 2005.

Development of gambling products

The gambling industry is continually moving and operators are always looking to develop new and innovative gambling products. We frequently advise clients on new products and concepts and can assist where discussions may be required with the Gambling Commission.

We also have experience of providing written advice on gambling products that may be requested by financial institutions, regulatory bodies and investors.

Online/remote gambling including cross jurisdictional advice

The mobile and internet gambling market has seen significant growth during recent years and much innovation.

Many operators have sort to base their businesses outside of the UK for taxation, licensing and operational reasons, however changes to the Gambling Act 2005 expected during 2014 will require any provider or advertiser of remote gambling in the UK to hold a Gambling Commission Operating Licence.

Our licensing experts can advise you on the licensing requirements under UK legislation in respect of all forms of remote gambling. Furthermore we can provide advice through our international colleague and best friend teams in respect of remote gambling issues in other international jurisdictions.

Lotteries, skills games, and promotional competitions

We have a depth of experience of advising clients in respect of the formation of lotteries, whether they are small event lotteries or more complex regulated society lotteries.

Eversheds Sutherland licensing team frequently advise clients in respect of prize competitions and free prize draws that may be offered for marketing purposes. We have also acted for clients developing skills competition games.

Temporary use notice and occasional use notice

We have experience of applying for Temporary Use Notices for competitive poker competitions. We can also advise in respect of occasional use notices for various events.

Development manufacture and supply of gaming machines and gambling software

Both the manufacturers and suppliers of gambling machines and gambling software are always looking to develop innovative new products. We can provide advice in respect of compliance with the Gambling Act 2005 and Gambling Commission’s guidance and technical standards requirements.

Corporate transactions and issues arising out of insolvency

We have a wealth of experience of acting for the purchasers and seller of gambling businesses. We are able to provide in depth due diligence reporting on licensing and gambling compliance matters. We also frequently provide advice on the licensing implications arising out of transactions including the obligations for notifying the Gambling Commission in respect of change of control and change to key management positions.

We have also advised on licensing issues arising out of insolvency proceedings and financial restructuring.

Licensing act 2003

Personal and premise licence application management

Our team has extensive experience of licensing matters under the Licensing Act 2003. We have acted for a wide range of operators such as retailers, restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotel operators, and online distributors.

We recognise that clients licensing needs vary from operator to operator. Whether your premises is for the off sale or on sale of alcohol and or the provision of regulated entertainment we can assist with obtaining premises licences for a range of venues including:-

  • Bars/Pubs/Restaurants
  • Nightclubs
  • Hotels
  • Retail premises including off licences/supermarkets
  • Distribution Warehouses for internet/telephone alcohol sales
  • Stadiums and Arena venues
  • Festivals and outdoor events
  • Casinos
  • Cinemas
  • Theatres

We can deal with your basic licensing applications whether routine matters such as new Personal Licences, changes to Designated Premises Supervisors, Temporary Events Notices, Minor Variations or more complex or contentious applications. We can administer the complete application process for you or work with in house Licensing teams to provide support or advice as and when required.

Advocacy and representation at all hearings including applications, reviews and appeals

We have experienced advocates who can provide representation for clients before all licensing hearings, whether contested application for new licences or variations, or review proceedings before Local Authority Licensing Committees. We can also provide representations before the Magistrates Court on appeal and in respect of review proceedings.

Our team also has experience of acting on behalf of clients in respect of Judicial Review matters in the higher courts on points of law.

Online alcohol sales

Online retailing has developed rapidly in recent years. The Eversheds licensing team has a wealth of experience of advising clients who wish to set up online/internet sales operations either as part of a wide internet based shopping experience or specifically for off sales (e.g. wine clubs). We have obtained bespoke Premises Licences for Distribution Centres and warehouses and have advised clients on procedures and social responsibility issues arising out of door to door deliveries to customers.

Risk management including operational due diligence and staff training

Ensuring that the terms of a Premises Licence, and the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003 including the licensing objectives are upheld can be a challenge for even the best licensed operators. We can assist you with developing your policies and procedures to ensure that risks are managed and that compliance procedures and staff training is of the appropriate standard.

Prosecutions, closure orders and closure notices for persistently selling alcohol to children

Our team has experience of advising clients, and where necessary their employees, in respect of prosecutions for offences under the Licensing Act 2003. We are able to provide representation at PACE interviews under caution, advise regarding formal statements, as well provide representation at prosecution hearings before the Magistrates Court.

We can also advise in respect of Closure orders relating to specific premises or groups of premises and also on the options to consider when faced with the option of a Closure Notice for the persistent selling of alcohol to children.

Licensing aspects of corporate/real estate transactions/disposals of licensed businesses

We work closely with out Real Estate and Corporate colleagues to provide specialist licensing support in respect of transactions for the acquisition or disposal of licensed property and/or businesses. We have experience of undertaking detailed due diligence and reporting to clients, considering data room contents, advising on transactional documentation including conditional agreements, leases and SPA’s

Licensing aspects arising out of corporate restructuring and insolvencies

Since the commencement of the Licensing Act 2003 the impact of insolvency on licensed premises has become very significant. With our finance colleagues we have a wealth of experience of advising Insolvency Practitioners, LPA Receivers, financial institutions and licensed operators on licensing matters arising out of restructuring and insolvency situations. Where necessary we are ready placed to make urgent and short notice licence applications and to provide advice upon wider licensing issues that are relevant to our clients who often have very specific needs.

Licensing law experience

The Eversheds Sutherland Licensing legal team experience includes:-

  • advising one of the UK’s largest casino operators in respect of all its Gambling Act 2005 and Licensing Act 2003 licensing needs including successfully obtaining for the company one of the first Large Casino Premises Licences for a new Casino development at the Birmingham NEC.
  • successfully represented Brand Events and Laverstoke Park in respect of two Premises Licence reviews applied for by local residents in objection to Carfest South Festival promoted by Chris Evans and BBC Radio 2 in support of BBC’s Children in Need.
  • advised Four Seasons at Park Lane Hotel in respect of all its licensing needs arising out of a major £multi-million refurbishment including obtaining a Special Treatment Licence for a new spar facility and Marriage Licence for the premises.
  • successfully obtained one of the first Judicial Reviews under the Gambling Act 2005 relating to a licensing authority decision to refuse an application for a Betting Office Licence. The decision led to the Gambling Commission revising its Guidance to Licensing Authorities.
  • advised a financial institution in respect of the licensing issues arising from the £500 million restructuring of an established pub business.
  • advised a purchaser on the licensing issues arising out of the acquisition of a licensed London Poker Club.
  • obtained a Premises Licence for one of the largest distribution Warehouses in the UK to enable a logistics distributor to provide facilities for online alcohol sales for a well known retailer.
  • have acted for numerous national bookmakers including Stanleybet prior to their acquisition by William Hills and Betting Shop Services before the Company’s merger with Jennings.
  • advised on licensing aspects relating to the £140 million acquisition of Makro by Booker Group Plc.

Other licensing experience

Our range of licensing expertise also includes, but is not restricted to:-

  • special treatment licences.
  • marriage/civil partnership licence.
  • street trading/pavement cafe licences.
  • market licences.
  • sexual entertainment/sex establishment licences.
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