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Prevention or cure? Ensuring business continuity on your licensed premises

The Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) is the key person involved in a business that sells alcohol.  They will be named on the premises licence and will be the key person in charge of the day-to-day management. Usually they will be the owner or a trusted manager. The DPS will, in turn, hold a personal licence.

What happens if your DPS leaves suddenly and without notice?

It is a criminal offence for a premises that sells alcohol to trade without a DPS.  If your DPS leaves it can cause problems where there are no other personal licence holders in the business.  If you do have a personal licence holder available there should not be any interruption in trade. Once a replacement is identified an application must be made to the council for a variation of DPS, an application that once submitted has immediate effect. But, if you don’t, the premises would have to stop selling alcohol.

Given it can take up to a month to obtain a personal licence, any owner of licensed business should ensure they have one even if they don’t work at the premises. It is also advisable to ensure that you have several staff with personal licences to make sure you don’t get caught short.

Can someone not employed by me serve my customers?

I was asked recently about this scenario:

The clients’ manager had allowed one of their friends to work behind the bar. The friend was not employed by the client and had no place being behind the bar and serving customers. On this occasion, nothing untoward happened and the client was able to take the appropriate action to resolve the situation.

If you do not employ an individual, they should not be serving alcohol to customers on your premises!  Alcohol is a drug. This is why its sale is regulated. To sell alcohol, an individual needs training and to know what they can and can’t do. Most of us know that you must be 18 to buy alcohol but that does not mean we have the necessary knowledge to ensure the safety of customers.

What could possibly go wrong?

A situation such as this could place the licence at risk. Your insurance cover could be at risk. Your business could be at risk.


If this were to happen on your premises, the authorities could apply for a review of the premises licence. At a review hearing, this will be a very difficult issue to address.

A failed test purchase can happen due to a lack of concentration and be a mistake made by one individual. In contrast, trying to justify a decision where your DPS has actively allowed a breach to occur can be much more challenging to overcome.

The outcome can depend on a range of factors and may include a requirement to remove your DPS. At the very least, your premises will be on the authorities’ radar as a cause of concern and attract further scrutiny.

Prevention is better than cure!

For more information about this article or anything else AfterHours, contact your Napthens Solicitors in Preston, Blackburn, and across the North West today.

Business owner of a licensed premises