Next Generation Partners

Licensing in Scotland

Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors

Traditionally known for its expertise acting for large-scale on-trade companies, such as major brewers and late-night operators, Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors has in recent years become increasingly active for pub and restaurant sector players – including emerging operators – as well as for food retailers. The team is well placed to represent clients before licensing boards and in litigation. Besides its broad expertise, clients also benefit from the firm’s online portal, listing the client’s premises, pending applications and problem premises. The team is led from Glasgow by liquor licensing law specialist Audrey Junner, who routinely handles gambling, civic government and liquor work, and includes Jack Cummins, who has a specialism in supermarket work. Senior associate Eilidh McGuire is another key contact for liquor, civic and gaming licensing.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Junner


‘The team at Hill Brown are exceptional, they make sure that as a company we are always trading legally which is of paramount importance at all times.’

‘The team at Hill Brown will go the extra mile at all times.

‘I work with Eilidh McGuire, she is exceptional, always gives clear advice and is a very strong and capable individual.

‘Having Jack, Audrey and the team on speed dial is invaluable to us. Having worked with many licensing lawyers in the past I can say without doubt that MSHB are a cut above both in terms of knowledge and service.’

‘Jack Cummins literally wrote the book on licesning and throughout the nightmare of the pandemic has been an invaluable resource.’

Audrey Junner who looks after us is really like an extension of our team and without her assistance it would have been a nightmare to manage the continuously changing pandemic landscape.’

Key clients

Co-operative Group Food Limited

Dalata Hotel Group

Six By Nico Group

Brewdog Retail Limited

Roadchef Motorways Limited

Nando’s Chickenland Limited

Mitchells & Butlers Retail Limited

Stonegate Pub Company Limited

Chivas Brothers Limited

Viva Italia Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Brewdog Retail Limited on the acquisition of a provisional premises licence for a new hotel in Edinburgh.
  • Advised Viva Italia Limited on the acquisition of a number of former restaurants out of administration.
  • Advised Co-operative Group Food Limited on over 80 major variation applications as part of a national rollout of home deliveries.


Handling the full remit of licensing matters, TLT has recently acted for a leisure sector player in the legal challenge to prevent Covid-19 passport schemes coming into effect in Scotland, and supported a client in the events industry with the licensing of COP26 held at the client’s premises. Besides the leisure and entertainment sectors, the team’s client portfolio also includes food retailers, pubs, bars and restaurants. The practice is led by alcohol licensing specialist Stephen McGowan, who is based at the Glasgow office together with legal director Niall Hassard (liquor, gambling and civic licensing) and associate Michael McDougall, who frequently works on matters pertaining to the provision of alcohol and entertainment in pubs, clubs and restaurants. Caroline Loudon is a key contact at the Edinburgh office, who acts across the licensing spectrum with a specialism in gambling law.

Practice head(s):

Stephen McGowan

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

  • Acting for the Night Time Industries Association in the legal challenge which aimed to prevent the Covid passports scheme coming into effect in Scotland.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP has considerable clout in petrol and filling station licensing but also supports businesses from the food, leisure and hospitality sectors as well as public sector bodies with a wide range of alcohol and civic licensing. Alongside its legal expertise, clients also benefit from the firm’s strong geographic presence with six offices across Scotland. The practice is led from Glasgow by liquor licensing specialist Andrew Hunter, whose work includes Licensing Board and Sheriff Court appeal matters.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Hunter


‘Harper Macleod are, to me, the go-to licensing lawyers in Scotland. I have used them for 6 years now for applications throughout most of Scotland.’

I have never had anything but perfect success at licensing boards.’

The advice from Harper Macleod is calm, consistent, understanding of pressures and risks, and has always allowed us to keep on track.’

‘Andrew Hunter is the only partner I use, I would trust him with any licensing matter we could come across.’

I have dealt with Andrew in six separate councils – and he is well known, respected and liked in each one which is massively helpful on applications.’

Andrew Hunter has a calm persona and is able to deal with anything. He has also been creative in deals under pressure, understanding our pressures and how he can provide advice to satisfy us as a client, and provide us with a clear strategy and timescales of how to move forward.’

Key clients

Lidl Great Britain Limited

Motor Fuel Limited

Culture & Sport Glasgow t/a Glasgow Life

Hotel Chocolat Retail Limited

Greene King Brewing & Retailing Limited

Bracken Hide Limited

Intervision Gaming (UK) Limited

Triyit Limited

TX EH1 Limited (Thai Express)

Glendola Leisure Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Culture and Sport Glasgow t/a Glasgow Life on the licensing requirements for the reopening of the Burrell Collection Museum in Glasgow after its £68m refurbishment and extension, including a premises licence application and ancillary operational advice.
  • Assisting Lidl Great Britain Limited in respect of the grant of all licences for multiple new store openings in Scotland, including new stores in Airdrie and Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, where the members of the Licensing Board had expressed concern about the prevalence of the licences in those two areas.
  • Assisting Motor Fuel Limited in the grant of 26 new premises licences for their petrol station forecourt shops all across Scotland, including four which were granted against multiple local objections from local residents and interest groups, located in Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire and East Lothian.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser has a strong profile advising tourism sector clients on property and planning-related licence variations, personal and occasional licences as well as on alcohol licensing but the group is also known for its public sector work. With offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh, its licensing work is led by David Hossack from its office in Scotland’s capital. Hossack’s litigation and arbitration expertise is regularly called upon in contentious licensing matters but he is equally well versed in the non-contentious space.

Practice head(s):

David Hossack

Other key lawyers:

Susan Leslie


‘Excellent level of professionalism. Great, in-depth knowledge of licensing issues and an ability to break concepts into more digestible and understandable terms for me.

‘They are my go-to licensing team in Scotland. Very client friendly and proactive.’

‘Partner engagement and availability is very high. Partners from different areas of the firm were very transparent and worked together to liaise on my case.

‘Excellent subject knowledge; broke down costs for me, very transparent; very efficient; good communication – never had to wait a long time for an answer.

‘This practice has an expert in every field so you always know that you are getting the most up-to-date and relevant advice.’

‘David Hossack is patient, helpful and always ensures he understands exactly the problem. He then develops a range of solutions and pathways so that there is scope and depth to his advice.’

‘David Hossack is always professional, prompt, proactive and helpful with his advice. Excellent and long-running knowledge and experience.’

‘David Hossack is very efficient, conscientious and sound with his advice.’

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

  • Finalised the licence for Diageo in relation to its flagship Johnnie Walker visitor centre in Edinburgh.
  • Undertook all licensing work in Scotland for Travelodge in 2021.
  • Acted for the Fruitmarket Gallery, a long-established art gallery in Edinburgh, in varying their licence to cover their newly expanded activities.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP is best known for its gambling sector work, which is not least due to legal director and practice head Audrey Ferrie’s expertise in this space, but the team is also well equipped to assist hospitality, retail and leisure sector clients with liquor and civic government licensing. As an integral part of the firm’s litigation offering, contentious licensing matters constitute another key element of its work as do issues at the intersection with real estate and insolvency.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Ferrie


‘No fuss, never a hassle, never a problem, utterly dependable.’

‘Efficient and effective.’

‘Personal touch.’

‘They have invested time in building a relationship with myself and my team. Their online portal system makes it easy and efficient to instruct on new matters and monitor progress.’

‘Each individual makes an effort to get to know everyone on a social level.’

‘Audrey Ferrie and her team – they get the job done.’

Audrey Ferrie has good experience of licensing matters in Scotland and is always quick to respond to any queries. She works collaboratively and is approachable to discuss sensitive matters.’

Key clients

Tesco PLC

Royal Yacht Britannia Limites

Yo! Sushi Limited

Adagio Hotels UK Limited

PizzaExpress (Restaurants) Limited

Wagamama Limited

Edinburgh International Conference Centre Limited

Glasgow Film Theatre Limited

Azzurri Restaurants Limited (ASK & Zizzi)

Work highlights

  • Advised Tesco Stores Limited on a range of licence applications throughout Scotland.
  • Advised Taco Bell on the licensing issues in respect of their new restaurant in a prime site in the centre of Edinburgh.
  • Advised PizzaExpress on a range of licence applications throughout Scotland.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn has been handling an increasing number of premises and late hours catering licenses for petrol filling stations, while other regular work involves variation applications in the hospitality and retail sectors. App-based service providers are also among the team’s clients, and it recently advised them on contentious and compliance issues. Solicitor advocate Kevin Clancy heads the team and made partner in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Clancy


‘Knowledgeable, professional, trustworthy, easy to work with.’

‘Most importantly, the team here are easy to get on with and a pleasure to work with. Knowing we can pick up the phone at any time is hugely appreciated.’

‘Kevin and his team have always been extremely professional and responsive.’

Kevin always takes time to communicate with me in terms that I understand instead of legal jargon.’

‘Kevin Clancy has been extremely diligent and responsive in keeping me up to date with some rapidly changing legislation.’

‘Very good and personal service. Kevin Clancy has proved to be invaluable in gaining agreement from the licensing boards to new and varied licences.’

‘Kevin Clancy is a fantastic lawyer, always available at the end of the phone for quick-thinking, pragmatic advice.’

Key clients

Uber Scot Limited

Dobbies Garden Centres

SGN Limited

TG Convenience Stores Limited

Dakota Hotels

University of Edinburgh

HKS Retail

Crerar Hotel Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising TG Convenience Limited in securing a number of premises licence for its petrol filling station sites, including strategy for what were otherwise excluded premises and advocacy before the Licensing Boards.
  • Advising Dakota Hotels in relation to its variation applications to its Eurocentral Hotel, in particular the development of a new events and conference space.
  • Advising Dobbies Garden Centres in relation to variation applications required across its premises as a consequence of its partnership with a leading UK supermarket.