The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill has been published and at the time of writing is being debated in the Scottish Parliament. This Bill, amongst others, contains provisions relating to alcohol and other licensing regimes in Scotland. We anticipate that these licensing provisions will be passed by the Scottish Parliament and come into effect initially from the date of Royal Assent until 30 September 2020 (with a mechanism to extend until 30 September 2021).

The main changes to the licensing regime affecting licence holders and operators are as follows:

Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 ("the Act")

Takeaway/Delivery Services

The Mandatory Conditions attached to all Premises Licences require that any activities on the premises are to be carried out only in accordance with the operating plan forming part of the Premises Licence.

If food is sold on the premises but the operating plan does not make specific reference to takeaway or delivery services for consumption off the premises, then a term to that effect is to be implied into the operating plan.

Delivery or takeaway of alcohol should still only be conducted where off sales are authorised in the Premises Licence and subject to the existing stringent requirements.

Minor Variations relating to Designated Premises Manager ("DPM")

  • When a DPM ceases to be the DPM, intimation must normally be made to the Licensing Board within 7 days of the DPM leaving which then allows a 6-week period to submit an application nominating a new DPM, the time limit for intimation has been extended to 28 days.
  • The 6-week period has been extended to 3 months or, if an application cannot be made within that extended period due to Coronavirus, the Licensing Board may further extend that period on request from the applicant.

Personal Licences

  • Period of effect of Personal Licences

If a Personal Licence is not granted by the Licensing Board by its expiry date, that Personal Licence shall remain in force for an additional 6 months from such expiry.

  • Renewal of Personal Licences

Renewal applications require to be lodged not less than 3 months prior to the expiry date of the Personal Licence; renewal applications can now be lodged at any time prior to the expiry date of the Personal Licence if the Licensing Board is satisfied that the failure to lodge earlier was for a reason relating to Coronavirus.

  • Refresher Training

Licensing Boards may extend the period within which training is to be completed and evidence of completion provided if the reason for failure to comply relates to Coronavirus; the period can be extended on more than one occasion.

Hearings (Licensing Board Meetings)

Where a Licensing Board determines that a hearing cannot be held in person for a reason relating to Coronavirus, any person who would have been given the opportunity to be heard at the hearing (applicant/objectors/representative bodies etc) must be given the opportunity to make representations in writing, by video conference or telephone.

Reports from Reporting Bodies

If reports from Licensing Standards Officers/Police Scotland or others which are required to determine applications are delayed as a result of Coronavirus, the reporting body must inform the Licensing Board of the delay. The Licensing Board may take into account any late reports if it considers it reasonable to do so.

Transfer applications by a person other than the Premises Licence holder

If an applicant is unable for a reason relating to Coronavirus to submit a transfer application within the usual 28-day deadline following the event triggering the application the Licensing Board may accept an application outwith the 28-day period.

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982

Renewal applications

Renewal applications for licences under this Act may be considered by the local authority up to 3 months after expiry of the licence, rather than the current 28 days.


As above, where a local authority determines that a hearing cannot be held, any person who would have been given the opportunity to be heard at the hearing must be given the opportunity to be heard in writing, by video conference or telephone.

This is a brief overview of some of the material changes. It does not represent a full statement of the law and should not be relied upon without further advice. 


Alex Buchan


Jacqui Birrell

Senior Paralegal