Licensing in Scotland

Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors

Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors has traditionally been particularly active for large-scale on-trade companies such as brewers and late-night operators but has also been handling an increasing amount of work - including contentious applications - from the pub and restaurant on-trade sectors alongside retail sector clients, who also benefit from the team's close cooperation with the firm's property, litigation and employment departments. Team head Audrey Junner specialises in liquor and civic licensing alongside gambling work, while key member Jack Cummins has a focus on supermarket work.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Junner

Other key lawyers:

Jack Cummins; Peter Lawson


The team at Hill Brown is first of all stable, I have had the same direct contact for the past five years. Hill Brown is proactive and the advice we receive is always sound, we make decisions based upon this advice and Hill Brown has saved and contributed greatly to our company over the years. They are very much part of our team.

Miller Samuel Hill Brown are leading licensing specialists. I cannot fault the service provided. Their accuracy, efficiency, competence and knowledge cannot be bettered in Scotland. They have always provided sound and sensible advice on matters of contention and also assistance in facilitating our own licensing procedures.

Hill Brown Licensing is excellent in all aspects and we cannot fault any of the service that we receive. The whole team is committed to ensuring they deliver our requirements and are really responsive. They demonstrate strong industry knowledge and always offer sound advice, often responding outside of normal business hours. There is a strong team of solicitors supported by knowledgeable and efficient paralegals and they are great to work with. They have invested time building relationships with my team and fully understanding our business.’

Audrey Junner is our main contact for licensing matters. Audrey is thorough and knowledgeable with an ever growing wealth of experience and has provided solid help and advice to us on many occasions. Her opinion and guidance continually assists us.

Audrey Junner is our main solicitor and she has demonstrated great passion and determination for reviewing and improving the way we work together. Audrey is pragmatic and responsive with strong industry knowledge and adds value in everything we do. She has always offered good advice and builds strong relationships.

Jack Cummins is great and has a long standing relationship with us. He is an expert in licensing, shows a great commonsense approach and always offers sound advice. Jack also has a great network and good contacts within the industry.

Key clients

Tesco Stores Limited

Co-operative Group Food Limited

Nando’s Chickenland Limited

Motor Fuel Group (MFG)

Brewdog Plc

Stonegate Pub Company Limited

Mitchells & Butlers Retail Limited

Clydeside Initiative for Arts Ltd

Select Service Partner Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted the landlord Hamcap (Glasshouse) Limited with the licensing implications of subdividing the various floors which formed the existing licence.
  • Assisted Victoria’s Entertainment Limited with a licence for a new restaurant/ bar at Balmaha on Loch Lomond.
  • Advising Co-operative Group Food Ltd on licensing matters, such as provisional premises licence applications and transfers of existing licences, pertaining to the client’s acquisition and launch of various new stores across Scotland.
  • Acted for Brewdog plc, Stonegate Pub Company Limited and Mitchells & Butlers in obtaining late hour licences.
  • Advised OMOA Limited (trading as Tony Macaroni and Nardini’s) on the transfer of the current licence and application for a major variation to allow the client to offer a takeaway and delivery service including the off-sales of alcohol.


TLT is acclaimed for its proficiency in licensing work, handling the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious licencing matters with a focus on alcohol, taxi and gambling licensing. Its clients base is equally broad and includes bars and restaurants, brewers and distillers, hotels and other leisure sector players alongside retail, sporting, gambling and taxi clients. Glasgow-based team head Stephen McGowan and Edinburgh-based Caroline Loudon are both highly regarded in the market and are supported by legal director Niall Hassard, who has a focus on the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, and associate Michael McDougall, who advises on all areas of alcohol and civic licensing with particular expertise in taxi and private hire licensing.

Practice head(s):

Stephen McGowan


The employees I interacted with were all friendly and knowledgeable of the slightly arcane licensing process. They were obviously experts in both this specific area of law and also with the geographical areas that we are operating within, and were therefore able to identify potential challenges to the applications and mitigate the risks before they arose. I was very impressed with the amount of work they put into both applications.

Leaders in their field; exceptionally knowledgeable about local issues and work proactively with the license trade.

Stephen McGowan is extremely knowledgeable regarding the current status of the licensing boards in Scotland, energetic and pro-active in sourcing and/or producing the information required.

Caroline Loudon is extremely competent.

Niall Hassard is a top-quality operator in his specialist field – always on top of the key issues in Edinburgh and works well with clients across all parts of the trade in the city.

Key clients

Ardgowan Distillery

San Vincenzo

The Dockyard Social

The Drymen Inn

Elior plc/ Scottish Rugby Union

Beds and Bars

Amber Taverns

Aldi Stores Limited

RBH Hospitality Management

Iceland Foods Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for Ardgowan Distillery in relation to the licensing for its new distillery and tourist destination venue in Inverkip, Inverclyde, assisting the client with the grant of the provisional licence for the whole campus.
  • Providing Elior plc/ Scottish Rugby Union with advice on the Liverpool v Napoli football match, specifically the legislation around having and serving alcohol at football matches.
  • Assisted Iceland Foods Ltd with obtaining a number of new licences for the client’s new format of stores known as the Food Warehouse in overprovision areas, supplemented by an estate wide variation project for over 60 stores.
  • Represented the Italian restaurant San Vincenzo in Bothwell in licensing and appeal proceedings following its initial refusal due to overprovision.
  • Guided Dockyard Social (DYS) from its conception as a pop-up venue to a fully licensed venue in the Finnieston area of Glasgow.

Brunton Miller

Brunton Miller has carved out a strong practice assisting a wide range of clients with various contentious and non-contentious licensing matters. Archie MacIver is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Archie MacIver

Other key lawyers:

Frank Collins

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP is well placed to provide assistance with alcohol and premises licenses alongside licensing appeals, and acts for food, leisure and hospitality sector players as well as a significant number of retail petrol stations, which is an area of particular expertise for the team led by liquor licensing specialist Andrew Hunter. Other areas of expertise include gambling and civic government licensing.

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

The Climbing Academy / Undercover Rock Limited

Comic Enterprises Limited

Glendola Leisure Limited

Certas Energy UK Limited

BP Oil UK Limited

Lynnet Leisure Group

Heineken UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Motor Fuel Limited on all licensing aspects of its acquisition of the Malthurst Retail Group. This relates to over 60 premises and over 100 licences from January 2019 onwards.
  • Assisting Climbing Academy Limited & Undercover Rock Limited with the application for premises licences for the client’s two climbing wall premises in Glasgow and two premises in Bristol.
  • Instructed by Shell UK Limited to obtain premises licences for its Balhadie site near Dunblane and its Shaws premises against NHS objection.
  • Assisted Lidl Great Britain Limited with obtaining a provisional premises licence for its new premises at Easter Road, Edinburgh.
  • Successfully obtained a premises licence for BP Oil UK Limited’s site at Annandale Water Motorway Service Area.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser provides assistance with public and private sector licensing with a specialism in the food and drink sector as well as in hospitality. Much of its work pertains to alcohol licences but it also handles a wide range of restaurant, hotel, office and retail licensing instructions, including contentious ones. Litigation and employment law specialist David Hossack heads the practice and routinely assists clients with applications and Licensing Board hearings.

Practice head(s):

David Hossack


The team is extremely responsive and capable, able to consider and provide practical decisive advice at short notice on potential plans and projects allowing an organisation to make quick decisions and either progres projects quickly or identify if they are not going to be practical to implement early on, ensuring unnecessary resource time is minimised.

Morton Fraser has always dealt with my licensing matters in a very efficient and professional way.

True specialists.

David Hossack is very knowledgeable, supportive and always makes himself available to respond and act quickly on any issues he is brought in to assist with. His understanding of how each local licensing board operates and how to engage with them to ensure you obtain the most positive outcome for your organisation is invaluable.

David Hossack is prompt and efficient and very accessible.

Key clients

WeWork Community Workspace UK Limited

Diageo Scotland Ltd

The City of Edinburgh Council

Accor (UK) Hotels

Travelodge Hotels

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

Security Industry Authority (SIA)

Scottish Canals

Brio Retirement Living (Chapelton) Limited

Forrest Road Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Brio Retirement Living (Chapelton) Limited in obtaining an alcohol licence for a bar/ bistro called Slate and Grain in a retirement complex near Aberdeen.
  • Assisted Diageo (Scotland) Limited with obtaining a provisional premises licence for Diageo’s multi-million pound flagship Johnnie Walker Visitor Centre in Edinburgh.
  • Providing ongoing assistance to Travelodge with all its licensing work in Scotland.
  • Acted for Forrest Road Holdings Limited in obtaining a licence for a new restaurant in Lauriston Place, Edinburgh.
  • Instructed by WeWork Community Workspace UK Limited to obtain a licence for an advanced serviced office in Edinburgh, where a range of individuals and organisations work in the same building with flexibility to take shorter, medium or long term spaces.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP handles liquor, gambling and civic government licensing with mandates regularly displaying overlapping matters with other departments such as real estate, restructuring and corporate. Its clients are typically drawn from the hospitality, leisure and tourism, manufacturing and real estate sectors, who also benefit from the team's strong litigation background. Legal director Audrey Ferrie heads up the team from Glasgow.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Ferrie


They invested a lot of time building relationships and understanding our business. They have a good client relationship and always strive to continue building on that. They offer very detailed advice when they are asked to support with any issue.

Audrey Ferrie takes the time to fully understand the requirements and ensure we are prepared.’

Key clients

Tesco PLC

Byron Hamburgers Limited

YO! Sushi UK Limited

Adil Group

Adagio Hotels UK Limited

Pizza Express (Restaurants) Limited

Wagamama Limited

Edinburgh International Conference Centre Limited (EICC)

Glasgow Film Theatre Limited

Azzurri Restaurants Limited

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented Tesco Stores Limited in a highly contested application in West Dunbartonshire to increase the alcohol display area in face of robust overprovision policy.
  • Successfully represented Tesco Stores Limited before the Aberdeen Licensing Board in relation to an application for a new premises licence for its Tesco Express in the main shopping thoroughfare in Aberdeen. The application was granted in the face of objections from two independent local operators.
  • Successfully represented Rock DCM Limited in an application for a new licence for a site in Glasgow’s East End regeneration area.
  • Assisting Wagamama Limited with all its licensing work in Scotland.
  • Obtained an alcohol licence for the YO! Sushi restaurant at Glasgow Fort Shopping Centre.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern routinely represents organisations and businesses - including well known names from the retail, restaurant and education sectors - at licensing boards and in a wide range of licensing appeals in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session, which is not least due to team head Jonathan Guy's litigation expertise. Much of its work pertains to late hours catering and premises licences, including licence variations and the transfer of premises licences.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Guy

Key clients

Scottish Midland Co-operative Society Limited

Midlothian Licensing Board and Licensing Committee

National Trust for Scotland

Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh College

McDonald’s Restaurants Limited


Fife Council

West Lothian Council

MMLM Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Straub Food Limited in an application for renewal of a late hours catering licence, which had attracted objections from the chief constable.
  • Assisted POA Restaurants Limited with an application for a variation of its current late hours catering licence to allow 24/7 trading at the drive-through.
  • Instructed by Broadway Retail Leisure Limited to submit an application for a major variation of the existing premises licence relating to Braehead Arena.
  • Instructed by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) to apply for a premises licence for the historic Rennie Mackintosh Hill House, Helensburgh.
  • Instructed by Scotmid to oversee the transfer of a premises licence from Sainsbury’s to the client, following the transfer of a lease on the property.

Burness Paull LLP

Providing liquor and premises licensing advice to restaurants and hotels forms the cornerstone of Burness Paull LLP's practice.

Key clients

Aberdeen Football Club

Welcome Break Group Limited

Select Property Group Ltd

The Chester Hotel Limited

McGinty’s Group

Carlton Clubs

Brown-Forman Corporation

Splendid Hospitality Group

Aberdeen Douglas Hotel Limited/ RKM Group Limited

Unionrow Restaurant Limited t/a Rustico

Work highlights

  • Advised the hospitality operator The McGinty’s Group in securing a major variation application to allow for later opening and terminal hours.
  • Advised the Welcome Break Group on the successful opening of a new Ramada Hotel in East Kilbride in April 2019. This included submitting two occasional licences to permit the public opening of the hotel on schedule.
  • Continued advice to Brown-Forman Corporation on licensing matters pertaining to its BenRiach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. Recently, this included submitting two minor variation applications for Glendronach Distillery to change the layout of the premises temporarily to allow for refurbishment works to take place, and a further variation to tie in with the final layout of the premises.
  • Submitted a major variation application on behalf of Aberdeen Football Club to amend its premises licence at Pittodrie Stadium to increase the activities that are held at the premises.
  • Acted for Select Property Group Limited in securing a provisional premises licence for the client’s development Vita Student in Edinburgh.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn is well versed in handling alcohol, gambling and taxi licensing work, including contentious matters, for clients across various sectors such as retail, hospitality, food and drink and leisure. Senior associate Kevin Clancy is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Grant; Elaine Brailsford

Other key lawyers:

Kevin Clancy


First-rate client service combined with deep expertise in a number of areas. They are very responsive and the fee scales represent excellent value for money.

I would say that they are particularly well organised. No request however complex or urgent has proven to be a problem to them. In addition, unlike some other firms, who instruct counsel for licensing matters, they are very much involved in bringing creative thinking to a case.

They are very supportive and willing to explore and give advice on a whole host of problematic ideas that we as retailers are experimenting with in this very challenging market. They embrace our idea of legal community working not just with us but other members of our legal panel to help resolve legal matters.

The licensing team is very supportive and always goes that extra mile to answer any queries we may have and resolve any issues. They are approachable, friendly and a great asset.

Kevin Clancy has been particularly impressive and a hugely valued external advisor. Kevin can always be relied on for an excellent depth of local knowledge combined with practical and commercially-minded advice. Having seen Kevin on his feet, I can also say he is a superb advocate.

Kevin Clancy is an outstanding individual. Highly organised, focussed and easy to deal with. Having seen him deal with clients he is excellent at explaining complex legal matters and also managing their expectations as the legal process unfolds. He is a cool head under pressure with first-rate knowledge of licensing law and practice.

Key clients

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd

Uber / Uber Scot Limited

Rentincome Limited

SMG Europe

The Balmoral Hotel

Crerar Hotel Group

Dobbies Garden Centres Ltd

SGN Limited

Dakota Hotels

Fraser Suites

Trump Turnberry

Metrogrow Limited

H.K.S. Retail Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised SMG Europe on the licensing of its new £333m exhibition and conference centre in Aberdeen, which included a provisional premises licence, theatre licence, and market operator’s licence.
  • Assisting Rentincome Limited with its appeal in the Sheriff Court concerning the revocation of its premises licence by the Licensing Board.
  • Advised Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited on its variation applications to achieve significant off-sales capacity increases in overprovision areas.
  • Continued advice to Uber Scot Limited on licensing and compliance matters.
  • Provided Crerar Hotel Group with licensing advice and dealt with the transfer applications in relation to Crerar Hotel Group’s disposal of Scotland’s Hotel (Pitlochry), The Craiglynne Hotel (Granton-on-Spey), Ben Wyvis Hotel (Strathpeffer) and Eight Acres Hotel (Elgin).