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Licensing in London

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP's wide commercial client base, which includes Tesco Stores, Marriott Hotels and Merlin Entertainments, is testament to the firm's 'ability to provide a one-stop package of legal services to the industry'. The team is especially noted for its 'extensive experience in a broad range of regulatory fields' and its ability to offer niche specialist advice to all clients, whether bricks-and-mortar or online. Practice head Craig Baylis regularly appears before tribunals all over England and Wales, including advocating in the Crown Courts on licensing appeals. Another key member of the team is solicitor advocate Jeremy Bark, whose 'in-depth understanding of the hospitality sector' is matched by his 'intricate knowledge of licensing law'.

Practice head(s):

Craig Baylis

Other key lawyers:

Jeremy Bark


The firm’s wide commercial client base in the hospitality sector is testament to its ability to provide a one-stop package of legal services to the industry.

Jeremy Bark has an in-depth understanding of the hospitality sector combined with an intricate knowledge of licensing law and of other regulatory laws which impact on it.

BCLP has extensive experience in a broad range of regulatory fields which compliment the field of licensing.

Craig Baylis knows the situation, and the people you need to talk to, and how to talk to them.

Jeremy Bark is exceptionally hard working with good judgement and is appreciated by clients for his willingness to go the extra mile.

Craig Baylis has decades of experience in licensing and criminal law which has seen him represent some of the highest profile operators in the leisure sector on licensing issues.

Key clients


Bvlgari Hotel

Drake and Morgan

Brasserie Barco

Here East

Giggling Squid

Merlin Entertainments

Marriott Hotels

TGI Fridays


Work highlights

  • Successfully obtained a number of licences, including a renewed SEV and new premises licence, in connection with the redevelopment of The Box Soho premises within an iconic location in a Westminster Stress Area.
  • Successfully obtained a new licence for Tesco premises located within a Camden cumulative impact area in the face of objections.
  • Successfully dealt with objections to the Magic Mike show being run at the landmark Hippodrome London venue.

Keystone Law

The team at Keystone Law is 'one of the best for a thorough understanding of licensing' and fields 'a diverse range of committed, thoughtful practitioners'. The firm's expertise spans the full gamut of licensing matters, including enforcement issues, noise complaints, regulated entertainment and late night refreshment, and temporary event notices. For clients in the hospitality industry, Gareth Hughes, who is also a 'fine and fluent advocate', is the key name to note. Andrew Wong is 'especially strong when acting for bluechip restaurant, hotel and bar operators', and is also recommended for his commercial approach. Hughes and Wong, along with Niall McCann, are noted for achieving 'excellent results', especially when advising nightclubs, off-licences and events spaces. James Daglish also recently joined from Goodman Derrick LLP.


This firm is one of the best for a thorough understanding of licensing and knowledge of licensing law.

Gareth Hughes is not only an expert in his field, he is a fine and fluent advocate.

The team has excellent licensing expertise.

Andrew Wong is exceptional in is commercial approach and astuteness – he thinks like an entrepreneur and acts like a can-do lawyer.

The licensing advice we get from Keystone is always sound, commercial, timely and cost effective.

Andrew Wong is especially strong when acting for bluechip restaurant, hotel and bar operators in Central London.

A diverse range of committed, thoughtful practitioners.

Niall McCann’s advice and work is always of the highest quality which yields excellent results.

‘Marcus Lavell and Robert Sutherland have real in-depth knowledge of the licensing industry and a strong understanding of the public law principles which apply to licensing matters.’

‘Marcus Lavell is an excellent young licensing practitioner. Very industrious and tenacious.’

‘Gareth Hughes and Robert Sutherland are both vastly experienced and knowledgeable practitioners.’

Key clients

Time Out Market London Limited

Puttshack Ltd

Major Leisure Limited

MB Bermondsey (Guernsey) Limited

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Mishcon de Reya LLP

Authentic Ale Houses

B & M Retail Limited

Try Market Halls Oxford Street Ltd

Barworks Public Houses Limited

Light Bar & Market Limited

Sfg Club Ltd

Hope lease Limited (Koko)

Work highlights

  • Advised on all aspects of licensing for the Time Out Market, which will be the centrepiece of the new Waterloo station.
  • Assisting Knight Dragon with applications for multiple premises licences in a very large development, which includes bars, restaurants, and cinemas, on the Greenwich Peninsular.
  • Advised on an application to the Lanarkshire Licensing Board for a new premises licence for the B&M store in Stenhousemuir.

Poppleston Allen

Boutique firm Poppleston Allen, which is based in Nottingham, counts many of London's leading restaurants, bars, hotels, private members clubs and outdoor events among its clients. The team handles the full gamut of licensing work, including obtaining new premises licences, varying existing premises licences to increase trading hours and capacity, and advising on increases in trading areas. The team is jointly headed by Lisa Inzani and Clare Eames, the latter of whom has extensive experience in assisting following allegations of breach of licensing conditions, police closures, and other enforcement action. Another key team member is associate Steve Burnett, whose regular workload includes challenging judicial reviews and appearing at licensing hearings, largely on behalf of privately owned pub, restaurant and nightclub operators.

Practice head(s):

Clare Eames; Lisa Inzani

Other key lawyers:

Steve Burnett

Key clients

Stonegate Pub Company Limited

Tribeca Holdings

Caprice Holdings/The Birley Group

Gauselmann AG

Shaftesbury plc

Bill’s Restaurants Limited

Ivy Collections

wagamama Limited

Honest Burgers Ltd

Paddy Power Betfair

Work highlights

  • Assisted the Stonegate Pub Company with pre-acquisition due diligence and advised on all business purchase agreements and warranties for its acquisition of 32 venues from Bar Fever Limited and a further six sites from Novus Leisure.
  • Obtaining a new premises licence for wagamama’s first ever Dark Kitchen, despite the application receiving in excess of 20 representations from local residents.
  • Reviewing all acquisition partners and completing extensive due diligence enquiries of existing stakeholders, compliance management teams and operational policies and procedures for Boylesports expansion across the UK.

Thomas & Thomas Partners LLP

Boutique firm Thomas & Thomas Partners LLP is firmly positioned as 'one of the best licensing law firms in London', handling work for a wide variety of the capital's biggest players from the hospitality industry, including multiple West End theatres and leading hotels. The team's 'knowledge of the sector provides complete confidence'; it is jointly headed by Alun Thomas, who frequently advises clients within the borough of Westminster; Thomas O'Maoileoin, who acts for several institutions of national importance; and alcohol and entertainment licensing expert Jack Spiegler, who is also highly regarded.


One of the best licensing law firms in London.

Alun Thomas has an influential network throughout London with respect to licensing and is able leverage that to assist his clients in complex situations.

The team is able to offer a tailored service due to their nimbleness and flexibility.

Jack Spiegler is without a doubt the best in the business.

Knowledge of the sector provides complete confidence to the client.

Thomas O’Maoileoin is hugely experienced and gives really helpful and practical advice.

Thomas & Thomas are THE licensing law firm for the hospitality sector in London.

Key clients

5 Hertford Street

Adam Handling

A Man About A Dog Ltd

Allbright Group Ltd



Angela Hartnett


Battersea Arts Centre


Bob Bob Ricard

British Land

Burger and Lobster

Cadogan Estate

Canary Wharf Group Plc


Café Royal

Carraig Investments Sarl

Christie’s Education Limited

Cinnamon Club

Cirrus Inns

Corinthia Hotel


Daisy Green


Delfont Mackintosh Theatres


The Fat Duck


Fifty Carnaby Limited

Firmdale Hotels

Fortnum & Mason

The Garrick


Genuine Restaurants Ltd

Goals Soccer Centres

Grosvenor Estates

Harvey Nichols


Hedonsim Wines

Hermes GB Limited


Imperial College London

Imagination Industries Incubator Ltd

KERB (Seven Dials Market)



Lavazza Coffee (UK) Ltd

London Union (Dinerama, Street Feast)

Lucky Voice

Marcus Wareing

Mercato Metropolitano

Miss World Holdings

Work highlights

  • Successfully obtained a new 3am premises licence for 50 Carnaby Street, despite policy and opposition, in Westminster City Council’s West End, a cumulative impact area.
  • Successfully assisted Labtech with the granting of 25 premises and 25 shadow licences for the Hawley Wharf development in Camden Town, despite Camden Town Special Licensing Policy and over 100 objections being raised.
  • Obtained a new premises licence and SEVL for the re-launched Boulevard Theatre, the iconic Soho venue, on its previous site.


TLT's licensing practice has a national reach, acting for pubs, festivals, hotels, visitor attractions, theatres, and competitive socialising operators all over the country, as well as in multiple London boroughs. The firm also counts a number of large estates which own or operate premises licences among its clients. Practice head Matthew Phipps regularly undertakes hearings for a variety of different types of licence application, including new premises licences, variation applications, and review and other enforcement matters. The firm's expertise in alcohol and gambling licensing matters was strengthened by the arrival of solicitor advocate Ewen Macgregor , who joined the Bristol office from Gregg Latchams LLP in November 2019.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Phipps

Other key lawyers:

Ewen Macgregor


‘They go beyond the normal expectations throughout the licensing process.’

‘Matthew Phipps’ knowledge of the licensing process is excellent and has been a great support. He is also keen to work alongside us rather than be too dictatorial.’


Key clients

Greene King Plc

Punch Taverns Plc

Yum! (KFC, Pizza Hut Delivery & Taco Bell)

Hawthorn Leisure

Boomtown Festival

SA Brain & Company Ltd


Las Iguanas

MEN Arena

Boston Tea Party

Work highlights

  • Successfully advised Grosvenor Estates on an application for a premises licence for their four acre garden space in the heart of Mayfair to permit festival type activities to be conducted throughout the year.
  • Advised KFC on an application for a new premises licence to permit it to provide late night refreshment in close proximity to Waterloo Train Station.
  • Successfully assisted Electric Star Pubs with an application for a new premises licence to permit a series of one day 10,000 capacity music events to take place at the Three Mile Island Park in East London.


The licensing team at Ince handles the full spectrum of contentious and advisory matters on behalf of a wide range of clients from the entertainment sector. Practice head Philip Somarakis frequently conducts licensing committee hearings and licensing appeals, as well as defending licence holders faced with criminal investigations and prosecutions. He is supported by alcohol licensing and gaming expert Andrew Cotton. Also notable is associate Joanna Onisiforou, whose clients range from hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, supermarkets and private members clubs to large property owning companies and managing agents.

Practice head(s):

Philip Somarakis

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Cotton; Joanna Onisiforou

Key clients

GSY Hospitality Ltd

SMD Concepts Limited – Bombay Bustle

Samadin Limited

London School of Economics

Arabica Kings Cross Limited

Exale Drinks Co

Midcounties Co-operative Limited

Whiteclub Limited – Chinawhite

195 Piccadilly Limited – BAFTA

Brian Hogan

Work highlights

  • Successfully assisted GSY Hospitality with the licensing for the new five-star luxury Great Scotland Yard Hotel hotel in Central London.
  • Successfully advised nightclub Chinawhite  on temporary event notices for various designated areas, including the sale of alcohol, late night refreshment and regulated entertainment until 3am.
  • Assisted with a licensing appeal against a decision by Hounslow Borough Council to refuse to vary a premises licence.

John Gaunt & Partners

Boutique licensing firm John Gaunt & Partners, which operates nationally from three bases in Sheffield, London and Gosport, is an 'excellent professional practice' which is 'at the top of its game'. The team is instructed by an enviable roster of household names from both the retail and hospitality sectors, and always provides advice which is 'tailored to the client's needs'. The firm is jointly headed by Tim Shield, who regularly advises on hotel licensing matters, and Michelle Hazlewood, who has a focus on the leisure industry.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Hazlewood; Tim Shield

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Grunert; Jon Wallsgrove


Professional, honest and prompt service which is tailored to the client’s needs.

Tim Shield and Christopher Grunert are a credit to the team.

They will always go well above the call of duty to ensure that clients are looked after and happy with the service provided.

Excellent professional practice and well respected in its field.

Gaunts is at the top of its game.

Respected highly by the police and licensing section.

Key clients

Whitbread Group PLC

Marston’s PLC

Marks & Spencers

Sodexo Ltd

Odeon Cinema Group


John Lewis

In Bev

Trust Inns Ltd

Belvar Life (UK) ltd


Millennium and Copthorne Hotels

Black Sheep Brewery


Melia International

Legacy Hotels


The Devonshire Group

Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew

Southern Co-op




Heritage Portfolio


Wulf & Lamb



David Lloyds Leisure

Bravo Inns

The Goodwood Estate

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Work highlights

  • Advising the Whitbread Group on all licensing matters, including securing hotel licenses for Premier Inn.
  • Assisted Marston’s with licensing matters relating to a strategic disposal programme involving two tranches which comprised over 150 premises totalling a market value in excess of £50m.
  • Successfully advised M&S on licensing issues relating to the opening of three new stores in the London Borough of Islington.

Pinsent Masons LLP

The licensing team at Pinsent Masons LLP is particularly known for its ability to 'co-ordinate across a variety of disciplines', utilising the breadth of expertise across the whole firm, working particularly closely with lawyers in its real estate, restructuring and corporate departments. Practice head Audrey Ferrie is frequently instructed to provide clients with liquor licensing, gambling and civic government licensing advice both in London and throughout the UK. In addition, associate Christopher Rees-Gay has considerable expertise in relation to festival and large event licensing.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Ferrie

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Rees-Gay


They are responsive, commercial and quick to highlight risks with solutions for mitigating.

A knowledgeable, dedicated and very approachable team.

Willing to work with and co-ordinate across a variety of disciplines to ensure the application is successful.

Very responsive to requests and not afraid to manage the client to ensure key application deadlines are met and the correct information is gathered.

Key clients

Harrods Limited

Adil Group (KFC and Taco-Bell)


Mint Festival

Yorkshire 2019 Ltd

Work highlights

  • Successfully secured a premises license for the Fan Zone for the UK’s nine day 2019 World Cycling Championships at a contentious hearing.
  • Advised Harrods on its latest change in its style of operations at its world-renowned flagship store, having secured a variation of the premises licence to incorporate the new demonstration kitchen.
  • Assisted Mint Festival with event approval for the 20,000 capacity dance festival.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Winckworth Sherwood LLP is particularly known for its work handling licensing matters for the supermarket and petrol forecourt sectors. The firm has extensive experience both in negotiating licences with officers and representing clients at council hearings, as well as acting on behalf of residents in opposing licences. With Robert Botkai at the helm, the team also assists a number of City firms who may be acting on a corporate acquisition, by providing a licensing adjunct to their legal services.

Practice head(s):

Robert Botkai

Dadds LLP Licensing Solicitors

Specialist firm Dadds LLP Licensing Solicitors advises on all aspects of alcohol and leisure licensing law, covering London, Essex and all surrounding counties. Solicitor-advocate David Dadds regularly acts on matters from hearings before licensing sub-committees and licensing appeals to the Magistrates’ Court, as well as offering advice on licensing issues to numerous local authorities.

Squire Patton Boggs

The team at Squire Patton Boggs is known particularly for its work at transport hubs, as exemplified by the ongoing advice provided to Select Service Partner, which operates nearly 300 licensed units at stations and airports across England and Wales. Another area of expertise for the firm is hotel licences, for which practice head Stephanie Perraton is instructed by a number of major players in the market.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie Perraton

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Smith


‘We have worked with this firm for many years and in that time have had excellent results. The team are efficient, knowledgeable and personable.’

‘Nicola Smith is our main contact and is very through when dealing with a case and provides great communication. The attention to detail when dealing with a contentious case has been vital in our outcomes, particularly reviews/ appeals, which fortunately is not something we deal with on a regular basis.’

Key clients

Select Service Partner Limited / SSP Air

One Stop Stores Limited

Jurys Inns


RBH Management

InterContinental Hotels Group

Bryant Park Hospitality (Part of Valor, formerly QMH)

Dalata Hotel Group

Halewood International

Etc. Venues

Work highlights

  • Managing all aspects of Select Service Partner’s licensed estate nationally, which includes units at mainline stations and international airports and Center Parcs.
  • Assisting One Stop Stores with  its contested licence applications and any actual or threatened licence enforcement action over 700 retail convenience stores in England and Wales.
  • Providing general licensing advice and assisting with numerous applications for the updating of layouts to Roadchef.