In order to sell alcohol in the UK you must have a licence. The Government has the right to take away that licence if it is not used responsibly and in accordance with the rule of law under the Licensing Act 2003.
In keeping with this aim of ensuring a responsible supply of alcohol, in order to sell alcohol an individual must have a personal licence to do so, or be authorised by a person who has a personal licence. A pub landlord would therefore have to obtain a personal licence giving them the right to sell alcohol. Subsequently, a member of the landlords staff would also have the right to sell alcohol under the permission of the landlord. Were that member of staff not to sell alcohol in accordance with the law, the landlord himself would be at risk of losing his licence.
In order to sell alcohol at a particular premises you will need to have an appropriate premises licence. In order to successfully receive a premises licence the premises must be deemed suitable for the sale and possible consumption of alcohol, whilst there must also be a personal licence holder who is prepared to be responsible for ensuring the sale of alcohol on the premises is done in a legal and responsible fashion; this person is known as the designated premises supervisor.
A premises licence will be required on top of a personal licence if the alcohol is to be sold for retail purposes, if there is to be the sale of hot food or drink between the hours of 11pm and 5am, or if alcohol is supplied to a club. A licence will also be required for certain entertainment events including theatre performances, live music and large sporting occasions. There will also be different regulations even amongst these entertainment events with alcohol regulations very different at a rugby match to a football match.
Club premises certificate
In addition to the above licences required there is what is known as a club premises certificate. This is the one occasion on which there will not need to be a specific personal licence holder or designated premises supervisor. Instead a management committee will assume responsibility for the distribution of alcohol. In order to qualify for this unique status the club or committee must have a list of members all of whom subscribe to the particular committee.
If you hold one of the above licences then you will generally be able to apply for the right to sell alcohol on a 24-hour basis. This does not mean that you will be open every hour of the day, but rather that you can sell alcohol at any time you desire. Approval for this will depend where you intend on selling the alcohol and any local objections. There are also business considerations such as whether anybody will buy alcohol from you at that time.
There are a number of alcohol-licence related laws and regulations which encourage responsible drinking and ensure laws in relation to alcohol are abided by.