Refresher Training – What you Need to Know


Personal licences issued under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 can only be granted to a person who has passed a relevant training course, for example the BIIAB Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH). A personal licence, once granted, lasts for ten years. What is less well known in the trade is that there a further training requirement – a “refresher” certificate. Regrettably, the Act is not entirely helpful as to what this entails. All that is changing however, as there has been a significant amount of work behind the scenes from various stakeholders to bring the so-called “Refresher” training course to life.

The legal position is that s.87(3) of the 2005 Act requires a personal licence holder to produce evidence of an updated training course (the “refresher”) within 3 months of the 5 year anniversary after the issue of the personal licence at the latest. That may seem straightforward on the face of it, but in fact has been, and is, fraught with technical gremlins. I have discussed the gremlins elsewhere and the aim of this note is not to debate the legality, but instead provide practical guidance in the form of questions and answers. I do hope you find this useful.

My personal licence was issued before 1 September 2009. When do I need to do my refresher training?

Many personal licence holders undertook training, and secured a personal licence well in advance of 1 September 2009 when the 2005 Act came into force. The relevant date here is not the date that you undertook the qualification but the date of the personal licence. The Scottish Government has advised that any personal licences issued prior to 1 September 2009 (including my own) are to be treated as being issued on 1 September 2009.

This means that the five year period for the vast majority of personal licence holders will run from 1 September 2009. The Act also has a three month grace period to produce the certificate itself so in fact the real “deadline” is 5 years and 3 months. This means the deadline to produce the refresher certificate for you will be 1 December 2014. The training must be done within the 5 years – the extra 3 months is just for production of the certificate.

Perhaps bizarrely, there is nothing in the Act about how close to the 5 year anniversary the training must be done so it would seem the training can be done as early as possible within any 5 year period.

My personal licence was issued after 1 September 2009. When do I need to do my refresher training?

Any personal licences issued after 1 September 2009 will have their own 5 year and 3 months deadline to work to based on the date the licence was granted. A calculator is available to work your own date out here:

I don’t have a personal licence but I sat the underlying qualification. What do I need to do?

The short answer is nothing. The refresher requirement only applies to people who hold a personal licence. There is nothing to stop you taking a refresher course as a matter of best practice but you have no legal obligation to do so.

What am I supposed to do after I have sat the refresher course?

The key element of the obligation is not just that you sit (and pass!) the course, but that you provide evidence that you have passed the course to the relevant licensing board. In other words, you need to get the refresher training certificate to the Board by 1 December 2014 (or whatever your relevant date is). It is important to sit the course as soon as possible and whatever you do, do not leave it to the last minute!

What you need to do is send details of your personal licence, together with the training certificate, to the licensing board which issued your licence. Some licensing boards may insist that the original licence and/or training certificate is returned but I hope in the main they do not.

It does not matter if you have moved or work in a different licensing board area since the licence was first issued – you send it to the Board which issued the licence. There is no fee but you would be wise to send it recorded delivery with a covering letter.

If you have moved home since the personal licence was issued and the address is out of date, you MUST inform the licensing board. In fact, you have a legal obligation to advise the licensing board of your new address within a month of the change. Failure to advise the Board is a criminal offence. If you have moved since 1 September 2009, update the licensing board NOW.

Can’t I just wait for the licensing board to remind me about this?

It is true that the licensing boards have a legal obligation to write to personal licence holders reminding them of this requirement, at least 3 months prior to the 5 year deadline. However, you cannot rely upon this. The obligation to do the training is yours alone and as a personal licence holder it is entirely up to you to ensure you do the training. You cannot blame the licensing board or anyone else and not receiving the licensing board’s letter is not an excuse.

Can I submit a photocopy of the refresher certificate?

In my view, yes. I also believe you can send a copy electronically. The Act does not specifically require that the original or principal certificate be sent to the Board. However, I am aware that certain licensing boards have asked for principal training certificates in connection with first-time personal licence applications. I asked the Scottish Government to clarify this issue and in August 2013 the Government has indicated that they have left this to licensing boards.

What happens if I do not submit my refresher certificate on time?

The licensing board has no option but to revoke your personal licence. They have no discretion on this point due to wording in the Act.

What happens if my personal licence is revoked?

This can have a series of repercussions from mildly annoying to potentially devastating. If you personal licence is revoked in these circumstances you cannot:

  • Train staff
  • Authorise alcohol sales
  • Apply for occasional licences
  • Be named as a premises manager (DPM)
  • Apply again for another personal licence until a period of 5 years has passed
  • Appeal

I am a personal licence holder but also named as a manager (DPM) on a premises licence. What happens if my personal licence is revoked?

This could have potentially devastating repercussions for a business. Only a person who holds a valid personal licence can be named as a DPM. If your personal licence is revoked, then your name is also taken off the premises licence. This means the premises has to stop selling alcohol immediately until such times as another personal licence holder can be named. The process for naming a new DPM is relatively straightforward but this of course depends on you having another personal licence holder in your staff to name!

When will the refresher courses be available to sit?

BIIAB expects that courses will be available from August 2013 and is already running a series of seminars for course trainers/tutors to bring them up to speed. BIIAB holds a register of local training centres on the website which you can search by postcode here:

What does the course entail?

The SCPLH-R as it will be known is a half day course with a multiple choice exam, very similar to the format of the existing SCPLH. There will be one workbook for both the SCPLH and the SCPLH-R, and the workbook will highlight which elements need to covered in the delivery for Refresher. Further details on the nature of course will be provided to you by the training centre you book up with. The Refresher course focuses on aspects of the main course which it was felt should be “refreshed”. For example, some of technical detail which exists in the main SCPLH is not repeated in the SCPLH-R (such as the requirement to obtain certificates of suitability under s.50 of the 2005 Act). The course will be fully updated to take account of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act 2010 as well as other significant developments.

Who designed the refresher course?

The Scottish Government created a steering group to design the specification of the new course. This process was overseen by independent consultants People Solutions. The steering group consisted of licensed trade bodies (drawn from both the on and off sale sectors), awarding bodies, alcohol harm charities, and other stakeholders, including myself. The specification is the “backbone” of the course. The specific detail of each course is down to the individual awarding bodies to design and deliver, so long as they meet the terms of the specification.

Do you have any other useful hints and tips?

  • Don’t wait. Get in touch with training providers now and get booked on courses as soon as possible.
  • Make sure that your personal details are up to date. Have you moved house since your personal licence was issued? Did you tell the licensing board? It is a criminal offence not to advise the licensing board of changes in personal details. Ensure that the licensing board has accurate information.
  • I suggest you keep a certified copy of your personal licence before you send the original back to the licensing board. A certified copy is a photocopy signed by a solicitor or notary. Remember that in some areas it could take a while for your personal licence to be returned to you, and in the meantime you still have a legal obligation to produce it if asked by a police officer or LSO. I would hope that both the police and LSOs will exercise common sense here but I recommend that do not rely on that and instead ensure you have a certified copy.
  • Remember – if you do not sit the course and produce the training certificate to the licensing board on time then your licence will be revoked, with no right of appeal, and you must wait for 5 years before applying again. This could cause real issues with your career/business/employer. Get it sorted.

Stephen McGowan

Director – TLT Scotland Limited

Chairman, BII Scotland

0141 353 7773


About Stephen McGowan

Leading Scottish licensing solicitor at TLT LLP.
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One Response to Refresher Training – What you Need to Know

  1. Keith says:

    Stephen just for your information I have just sent the refresher certificate and personal licence for one of my premises managers to East Dunbartonshire council as required and have been informed that they have not decided on a level of charge for updating our compliance with the refresher training when I challenged them and pointed out they were the first council I have come across that is proposing to charge they said West Dunbarton were already charging. Like you I thought there was to be no charge for this.

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