Licensing in Scotland

Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors

While Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors has been traditionally known for its expertise in advising large-scale on-trade companies - such as major brewers and late-night operators - on contentious and non-contentious licensing applications, the team has also carved out a strong practice acting for pubs, the restaurant on-trade sector and food retailers. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the team has handled an increasing number of e-commerce licensing for online alcohol sales and deliveries. Besides its broad expertise, clients also benefit from the firm’s online portal listing the client’s premises and all pending applications. Liquor and gambling licensing law expert Audrey Junner heads the team in Glasgow, which includes the highly regarded Jack Cummins; he is best known for his supermarkets work. Associate Eilidh McGuire is another key contact for liquor, civic and gaming licensing.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Junner

Other key lawyers:

Jack Cummins; Peter Lawson; Eilidh McGuire

Key clients

Chivas Brothers Limited

Co-operative Group Food Limited

Nandos Chickenland Limited


Brewdog Plc

Gleneagles Hotel

Stonegate Pub Company Limited

Mitchells & Butlers Retail Limited

Clydeside Initiative for Arts Ltd (SWG3)

Select Service Partner Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Dalata Hotel Group on a new licence for a proposed hotel development.
  • Advised Brewdog plc on the acquisition of a provisional licence for a new brewery.
  • Advised Co-operative Group Food Limited on a major project involving the review of over 400 licences and subsequent variation applications.


TLT’s impressive client roster includes bars and restaurants, brewers, taxi companies and trade bodies alongside retail, leisure, event and gambling sector players, who regularly draw on the team’s wide-ranging licensing expertise. Its offering covers the gamut of contentious and non-contentious licensing work with a focus on alcohol, gambling and premises licensing and includes Covid-19-related emergency temporary licences for home delivery and click and collect options. Team head Stephen McGowan is a key contact for alcohol licensing as is associate Michael McDougall, while Caroline Loudon is best known for her gambling law expertise. Niall Hassard is another key contact, handling liquor, civic, gambling licensing and HMOs and is often instructed in licensing appeals in the Sheriff Court and the Court of Session.

Practice head(s):

Stephen McGowan

Other key lawyers:

Michael McDougall; Caroline Loudon; Niall Hassard


‘My businesses are looked after by Niall Hassard. Niall is very much a trusted adviser and his role has been so much more important in the past year.’

‘Caroline Loudon is very experienced and knows the members and staff of the licensing board very well. She is clearly liked and respected by the board which eases licence applications. She communicates well and gives clear advice.’

‘The licensing team at TLT continually strives to keep its clients and subscribers informed with the latest and most relevant updates which is invaluable. They are friendly, approachable at all levels and concise with their advice.’

‘Niall Hassard has a positive and upbeat demeanour which exudes confidence and aptitude which, as a client is very reassuring. Niall has always displayed an expansive knowledge in his field which appears to have no limit.’

‘The licencing team at TLT Glasgow is exceptional They are approachable, patient and understand our business. Their personable approach makes you feel like you have a relationship with them rather than simply feeling like a fee-paying client. Their knowledge of licensing law is extensive, as you would expect, but they have excellent relationships with local authorities which encourages a collaborative approach rather than adversarial which has been essential in the growth of our business.’

‘Stephen McGowan and Michael McDougall are excellent. I cannot recommend this team highly enough.’

Key clients

Aldi Stores Limited


Celtic FC

Signature Pub Group

Punch Pubs

Iceland Foods Ltd

Elior plc/Scottish Rugby Union

Greene King

Rangers FC

National Trust for Scotland

Work highlights

  • Advised Eusebi Deli on a successful legal challenge to Covid-19 laws related to the definition of a licensed café in Scotland.
  • Assisting Nuveen Real Estate Ltd/Edinburgh St James (GP) Ltd with the licensing of 27 food/beverage and retail units at the St James Quarter in Edinburgh.
  • Advising Elior plc on the licensing of the Edinburgh Rugby stadium which is being built within the perimeter of the land of Murrayfield Stadium.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP receives regular instructions from businesses across the food, leisure and hospitality sectors and has carved out a strong practice advising on petrol and filling station licensing. Providing assistance with alcohol and premises licenses are other key elements of the practice led by liquor licensing specialist Andrew Hunter, while civic government and public entertainment licensing complements this offering; this includes assistance in licensing appeals.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Hunter

Key clients

Lidl Great Britain Limited

Greene King Brewing & Retailing Limited (t/a Belhaven Pubs)

Motor Fuel Limited

Shell UK Oil Products

Hotel Chocolat Retail Limited

BP Oil UK Limited

Axcel Hospitality (Edinburgh) Limited

Newhall Mains (Rebecca Fraser)

Clyde & Co LLP

Martin McColl Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted Motor Fuel Limited with 22 applications for premises licences for petrol forecourts across Scotland, with a further tranche in 2021.
  • Appointed by Hotel Chocolat Retail Limited as Scotland licensing solicitors in 2020; the firm helped to secure a set of occasional licences for its Livingston shop for the Christmas period.
  • Acting for Axcel Hospitality (Edinburgh) Limited in all licensing matters for a new £18m hotel development in Edinburgh, including securing occasional licences to allow early opening over Christmas 2020.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser puts particular emphasis on licensing work in the hospitality and food and drink sectors but also acts for public sector bodies and commercial property clients. David Hossack heads up the team and is well versed in contentious and non-contentious licensing spanning liquor, entertainment and online sales licences alongside premises licence variations and personal licences. Advising on the impact of insolvency on licenced premises constitutes another key area of expertise.

Practice head(s):

David Hossack


‘Market leaders as licensing specialists.’

‘David Hossack is highly experienced, professional and always a good source of advice. Always prompt at responding to any requests for information and easy to access.’

‘Morton Fraser offer an excellent service.

‘From the start, Morton Fraser has been very professional, fast and efficient with their service.’

‘We have used Morton Fraser for premises licence applications and found them to provide an excellent service.’

‘David Hossack has always provided an excellent service to us – he is prompt, responsive, efficient, thoughtful and always very clear and sound with his advice.’

‘What stood out following support Morton Fraser provided was the ability to understand our business model, as what we were applying for was unique in itself. They took the time to understand our business which was what we required as an organisation for a successful outcome.

‘Their attention to detail was also something which did not go unnoticed; they were very thorough to ensure we were well prepared for our hearings.’

Key clients

WeWork Community Workspace UK Limited

Diageo Scotland Ltd

The City of Edinburgh Council

Accor (UK) Hotels

Travelodge Hotels

Scotland’s Rural College

Security Industry Authority

Scottish Canals

Brio Retirement Living (Chapelton) Limited

Forrest Road Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Regularly acts for Diageo (Scotland) Limited on a wide range of licensing issues.
  • Obtained a licence for a new Travelodge Hotel in Elgin within a very tight timescale during lockdown.
  • Acted for WeWork Community Workspace UK Limited in finalising a licence for an office in central Edinburgh.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP is well equipped to guide clients, such as retailers alongside hospitality, leisure and gambling sector players, through liquor, gambling and civic licensing matters. Much of its work is handled in conjunction with other teams within the firm and has recently including a significant number of mandates at the intersection with real estate, restructuring and corporate. Audrey Ferrie heads the team from Glasgow and has wide-ranging licensing expertise.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Ferrie


‘Very knowledgeable regarding alcohol licensing in Scotland. They provide advice, training and manage everything related to applications and personal license trainings.’

‘All my contacts are always very helpful and efficient. ’

‘They do a great job. Responsive, knowledgeable, reliable, pro-active.’

‘Our needs are usually straightforward, with one or two unexpected turns. So we expect the service we get to be straightforward – anticipating issues, minimal fuss, added value given. And in all counts the team delivers.’

‘Audrey Ferrie puts the “professional” in “professional service” – she never forgets that personal touch. Always busy, but you never have to wait too long for a personal and complete response.’

‘Hands-on practical advice and support; a calm voice of reason.’

‘A proactive and friendly approach to clients with transparent and fair billing.’

‘The team makes every effort to build a professional and personal relationship with its clients. They are also heavily invested in getting to know the business and how it operates, to ensure they can provide the best possible advice. Any matters are always responded to swiftly and clear communication supports case management. They have a good online portal for raising and managing matters.’

Key clients

Tesco Plc

Royal Yacht Britannia Limited

YO! Sushi UK Limited/ YO! Sushi Limited

Adagio Hotels UK Limited

Pizza Express (Restaurants) Limited/ Pizza Express Limited

Wagamama Limited

Edinburgh International Conference Centre Limited

Glasgow Film Theatre Limited

Azzurri Restaurants Limited (Ask & Zizzi)

Work highlights

  • Advising Tesco Stores Ltd on the licensing of its new store in the centre of Aberdeen, including strategy and advocacy before the Aberdeen Licensing Board.
  • Working in conjunction with its colleagues in the real estate team, the practice advised a Munich-based property company on the re-letting of the former Jamie’s Italian in the centre of Glasgow, including advice on licensing issues.
  • Working in conjunction with its colleagues in the restructuring team, the practice advised an insolvency practitioner on two disposals out of administration of licensed operators, which included various licensing issues.

Burness Paull LLP

Advising restaurants, pubs and hotels, Burness Paull LLP focuses on liquor and premises licensing and routinely handles matters at the intersection with planning and property and, recently, with restructuring and insolvency. Alasdair Sutherland is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Alasdair Sutherland


‘They have a good depth of specialists; expertise in most fields is covered.’

‘Alasdair Sutherland was very attentive and researched our issue in depth, giving us confidence that we had commitment from the team.’

Key clients

Hard Rock Café

Aberdeen Douglas Hotel Limited/RKM Group Limited

The Chester Hotel Limited

Brown Forman

Castlebrook Holdings

MacLellans (Think On) Ltd

Visitor Centres Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Brown-Forman Corporation on licensing matters pertaining to the three distilleries which the client owns at BenRiach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh.
  • Advised the Chester Hotel Limited, operator of the Chester Hotel in Aberdeen and the Chester Residence in Edinburgh, on ten occasional licence applications.
  • Advised longstanding client Aberdeen Douglas Hotel Limited on drafting and submitting four occasional licence applications to include the pedestrian area directly outside Malones on Shiprow, one of the first occasional licence applications to be dealt with in the city centre.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s clients benefit from Jamie Grant’s leisure and hospitality sector expertise, which is complemented by the group's experience in acting for retailers and education sector players. These receive regular assistance with alcohol licensing in particular, while handling premises, public entertainment and taxi licensing constitutes another key area of expertise. While Grant co-heads the team with Elaine Brailsford, who has recently been involved in a number of business-critical instructions, solicitor advocate Kevin Clancy is the key contact for day-to-day licensing matters, both contentious and non-contentious, and routinely represents clients before licensing boards.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Grant; Elaine Brailsford

Other key lawyers:

Kevin Clancy


‘The licensing team sits within the framework of a major law firm and can draw upon all the resources that means. In my experience it has meant when conducting licensing litigation as counsel that my requests are dealt with on time and accurately. They also bring their own view to a case and do not simply defer to the view of counsel. They actively brainstorm cases and are proactive in developing lines of argument. The approach is highly collaborative.’

‘Kevin Clancy is a first-rate solicitor. Highly technically astute but able to explain complex concepts in accessible language to the clientele. He is also able to bring to bear practical and commercial considerations which are often key to delivering effective legal advice.’

‘Kevin Clancy has an easy manner with the clients and is always plainly on top of the paperwork which in licensing cases can be considerable.’

‘Kevin Clancy’s counsel has been extremely valuable in helping us understand our opportunities and challenges in light of Scottish law and local authority frameworks. Kevin is consistently clear in his guidance and also recommends when we need to escalate specific queries – which is reassuring and builds trust.

Key clients

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd


Rentincome Limited

TG Convenience Ltd

The Balmoral Hotel

Crerar Hotel Group

Dobbies Garden Centres Ltd

SGN Limited

Dakota Hotels

Fraser Suites

Work highlights

  • Providing Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited with licensing advice in advance of its partnership with online food delivery providers. This included advice on the compliance requirements imposed by the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 as they apply to customers who are ordering Sainsbury’s products, including alcohol, from online food delivery platforms.
  • Advised Rentincome Limited following the revocation of its premises licence by Aberdeen City Licensing Board.
  • Advising SGN Limited on obtaining a premises licence for a petrol filling station.