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Harrison Clark Rickerbys’s ‘simply excellent’ licensing practice is led by ‘outstanding lawyer’ Heath Thomas, who ‘is devastatingly effective at hearings’ and has particular strength in contested applications on the grounds of the Licensing Act of 2003. Thomas led the advice for The Restaurant Group on 24 new premises applications and over 30 variation applications in light of refurbishments to its establishments, and acted for a licence holder with regards to an expedited review launched by the West Midlands Police following suspicions of drug handling on the premises and the death of a teenage New Year’s reveller. Solicitor Laura Shirley has experience in the licensing and regulatory space and is also a key contact. Other clients include Sargeant Partnership, Dishoom and Aston Villa FC. James Lowe joined George Green LLP in May 2017.

Emms Gilmore Liberson recently recruited ‘licensing specialist’ Peter Adkins from QualitySolicitors Talbots; he heads the firm’s regulatory practice, with particular expertise in members club licensing, and is rated for his ‘reliable and meticulous approach’. In recent highlights, Adkins successfully obtained one of eight new casino licences permitted under the Gambling Act of 2005 for Casino 36 despite heavy opposition, and advised Clear Blue Sky Thinking on the heavily contested renewal of licences for its two lap dance clubs in Birmingham. New Rectory also engaged the firm to handle licensing issues in connection with the purchase of an existing hotel, which involved compliance with the Marriage Act to enable the premises to host marriage ceremonies. Other notable clients include Sabai Sabai, Yorks Artisan Bakery, and Loki Wines.

Squire Patton Boggs is ‘far superior to its counterparts’, according to one client. Clients of Stephanie Perraton, who heads the firm’s national licensing practice, note that her ‘knowledge and expertise in the area of licensing is second to none’. She handles all aspects of licensing law including the sale of alcohol, entertainment and late-night foods. Director Nicola Smith, who ‘tailors herself to the situation and is very personable’, focuses her work on the hospitality and leisure sectors.

At Thomas Guise Solicitors consultant and employment law specialist Amanda Pillinger advises longstanding client Lidl on new premises licences, variation licences and challenges by local authorities or residents. Recent highlights include representing a Lidl store in Pontardawe in a new trading hours application, and acting on the construction of a new Lidl in Hawkinge, which encountered opposition from the local planning department on the grounds that the sale of alcohol hours exceeded those set within the planning permission. Both matters were resolved to the client’s satisfaction. Other highlights included obtaining a new premises licence for a dining and night club establishment.

Ian Besant leads Wright Hassall LLP’s licensing practice with the support of consultant Andrew Potts. Recent highlights include advising Thisisthefuture on several matters, including the opening of a new venue in Digbeth, which is due to become a cumulative impact zone; advising on a review application in the same area against live music venue Rainbow for alleged fly posting; and obtaining a new premises licence in central Birmingham. The practice also acted for the organisers of a mixed martial arts tournament in obtaining a temporary event notice despite police opposition, and re-licensing a nightclub in Sutton Coldfield, which involved extensive negotiations with the police and an environmental health officer due to the client’s history of financial shortcomings and brazen attitude towards the authorities. Paralegal Suzanna Oatley assisted on all matters mentioned.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP’s licensing team in Wolverhampton operates as part of the wider litigation department and works closely with the firm’s corporate and commercial property practices. Charlotte Clode heads the team and advises on all aspects of licensing law, including contested applications and variation licences; she is supported by senior solicitor Elisabeth Glover. Recent highlights included advising a higher education provider in obtaining a new licence for city centre premises, and representing a client with regards to a police application for the revocation of premises licences following a violent incident at the client’s establishment. Other clients include a business start-up whose commercial proposition involved remote gambling, and charities whose fundraising activities include a gambling element.

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