Licensing Law

Hylton-Potts - London Based Law Firm Helping People Across the UK since 1999

Licensing Act 2003

Licensing Law

Personal Licences

Premises Licences

Club Premises Certificates

Applying for a Licence

Hearings in front of licensing committees.

Breaches of Licensing Law.

Licensing Reviews.

Temporary Event Notices

The system of licensing is achieved through the provision of authorisations through personal licences, premises licences, club premises certificates and temporary event notices.

Personal licences authorise individuals to sell or supply alcohol, or to authorise the sale or supply of alcohol.

The Licensing Act 2003 provides licensing authorities with the power to suspend or revoke your licence, or to exclude specific activities from it, or to change the operating conditions attached to it.

Rodney Hylton-Potts has had many years experience and worked with both very large well known London night club owners and personnel, as well as with small bar and restaurants individuals. He has an excellent track record in obtaining and keeping personal and premises licences, and negotiating on behalf of the licence holders with the relevant local authorities.

The legislation in the Licensing Act is complex, and there are severe penalties if it is not complied with to the letter, and breaching the licence terms can incur a lengthy prison sentence, a substantial fine, or both.

Getting it wrong could be a criminal offence. At Hylton-Potts we offer practical and sensible advice in all aspects of licensing.

To learn more consult the experts – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email


Open General Trade Control Licence (OGTCL)

Standard Individual Trade Control Export Licence (SITCL)

There are different categories of Trade Control Licence that an exporter can use depending on the nature of the transaction, the category of the goods involved and whether the goods are classified as military or dual-use.

Open General Trade Control Licence (OGTCL)

An OGTCL allows the trading of most goods found on the UK Military List. You cannot use an OGTCL for the trading of dual-use goods.

There are two types of OGTCL available to exporters. These are for:

  • Category C goods
  • small arms and light weapons

Category C goods are items that do not fall into either Category A or B of the UK Military List (part of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists). Category C goods also include certain items used for riot control or self-protection and related portable dissemination equipment.

For more information, see the guide on Open General Trade Control Licences.

Hylton-Potts are experts and can advise. Try our free confidential 24 hour email service or our free confidential telephone helpline 9 am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday


The OGTCLs cover approximately 90 per cent of licensing situations. However, if you cannot meet the conditions required to use an OGTCL there are two other licences to consider.

Standard Individual Trade Control Export Licence (SITCL)

The SITCL is used by traders to cover the trading of a set quantity of specified goods. This licence can be used for a one-off deal and requires specific information:

  • country of origin and country of destination
  • consignor and consignee details
  • end-user details

The SITCL can be used for the trade of dual-use goods.

Usually, a SITCL is valid for two years or until the trade has taken place. Once the licence expires, a new application must be applied for if further trades are required.

Open Individual Trade Control Licence (OITCL)

An OITCL is a type of general permit that allows a range of activities, such as the trading of specific goods between any numbers of specified countries. This licence cannot be used for dual-use goods. An OITCL also requires specific information regarding country of origin and destination and/or specified consignor, consignee and end-user.

Generally, an OITCL is valid for two years.


Licence appeals process

Exporters whose applications for Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) have been refused have the right to appeal to the Export Control Organisation (ECO).

If you wish to appeal, you must do so in writing within 28 days of the refusal letter.

You cannot appeal against refusals or revocation of Open Individual Export Licence (OIELs). This is because these are concessionary forms of export licences for exporters with a track record in making export licence applications.  You should be aware that there is no formal appeal procedure if your OIEL application is rejected. If this happens, you will need to apply for a SIEL.

How the appeals process works

Appeals are reviewed to assess whether the appellant has submitted new information which was not available at the time of the original refusal decision and which could materially affect the decision to refuse.

The ECO will consider requests from exporters for meetings to discuss an appeal. However this would normally only occur if it is not possible for the exporter to present his appeal in writing.

If a meeting is arranged, the exporter should present his case including any additional information not already provided. The departmental representative(s) would then clarify issues related to the appeal. This might include a request for written clarification. A record of the meeting may be circulated, as appropriate, to advisory government departments.

A decision on whether to refuse or uphold an appeal will not be made at this meeting but will follow circulation of the appeal to other departments.

Appeals may be circulated to advisory departments, depending on whether new information has been provided, or it is felt that their advice is required. The appeals also go to those departments who provided recommendations on the original application. In each case the appeal will be considered by a government official who was not involved in the original case and he/she will also be senior to the original official.

Targets on processing of appeals

Exporters should bear in mind that the government’s targets for processing appeals for SIELs are as follows:

  • 60 per cent of cases within 20 working days
  • 95 per cent within 60 working days

The target does not apply to appeals concerning destinations subject to United Nations sanctions.

Download quarterly export licensing statistics by destination from the Strategic Exports – Reports and Statistics website.

Postal address for appeals cases

All appeals should be addressed to:

Appeals Section
Special Casework Licensing Unit
Export Control Organisation
3rd Floor
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET

If you have any questions about the appeals process, you can find contact details for the ECO on the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) website


A Standard Individual Export Licence (SIEL) is the most common of several different types of strategic export control licences.

In particular, it gives you permission to export specific items to specific destinations. The goods must be addressed to a stated person or company, and you may also have to identify the end user. The goods must be of the same quantity and value as described on the licence.

You will need to apply for a SIEL if you need an export licence and you cannot meet all the stated terms and conditions of an Open General Export Licence (OGEL).

SIEL conditions and amendments

You should adhere to all the terms and conditions of your licence.

Permanent SIELs

Holders of SIELs must follow standard conditions. Your licence can be revoked if you do not comply.

Standard SIEL conditions require that you:

  • produce the licence to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers with shipping documents when goods are presented for exportation
  • for exports to European Community (EC) member  states, you must produce the licence to HMRC officials and specify a place for the goods to be inspected at least three days before exportation
  • ensure a copy of the licence accompanies the  goods to an EC destination
  • for exports by post, include the licence in a  separate envelope attached to the package; photocopies are acceptable for sequential postings of technology
  • for electronic transfer, keep detailed records of the type of technology, dates and end users

Temporary SIELs

You may need a temporary SIEL if you are exporting goods for demonstration, exhibition, or repair and maintenance purposes (along with associated minimum electronic transfer required to undertake such tasks).

In the case of incidental electronic transfers, temporary SIELs are intended for cases where a UK exporter might, for example, be exhibiting overseas and need to email the minimum technology required to maintain, repair, install or operate the goods listed on the licence. A temporary SIEL is not intended for cases where a UK exporter passes technology to an overseas customer by email and subsequent download. Such transfers require a permanent SIEL.

In the case of temporary SIELs, you must return the goods to the UK before your licence expires, and advise or send the Licence Reception Unit within the ECO any expired licences. If you don’t use your licence at all, you should return it to the unit with a cover letter of explanation.

Goods exported on a temporary licence must not be disposed of abroad, unless the ECO has given specific permission for this to happen. Nor should you allow the goods to remain abroad beyond the expiry date without first contacting the ECO. You should not assume that such permission is necessarily granted. Such cases are considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. Often such cases need to be referred to advisory government departments before reaching a decision.

Failure to comply with any condition attached to a temporary licence may lead to forfeiture of the goods or to prosecution by HMRC.

To find out more about the consolidated criteria, see the guide about assessment of export licence applications: criteria and policy.

Time period for SIELs

SIELs normally last for 2 years, or 1 year for temporary licences. However, they can be revoked.

Export control updates

Updates to licence conditions and export control regulations are also regularly issued by the ECO. Subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters.

SIEL compliance and penalties

If you hold a SIEL, you must satisfy the ECO that you are complying with all the terms and conditions of the licence, including familiarity with current export legislation.

Companies are liable to receive compliance visits from the ECO if they hold SIELs for electronic transfers of software or technology.

To check this, the ECO will undertake a compliance audit of your company, usually within three months of a licence being granted. The ECO also uses audits to check whether companies are exporting goods or technology without an appropriate licence.

While ECO Compliance Officers do not specifically audit all SIELs, relevant records may be checked in relation to an associated compliance audit.

Timing of compliance audits

Compliance audits can take place from between three and 12 months to 36 months. Most exporters are visited every 12-18 months. The exact timing depends on the ECO’s risk assessment of your company. This takes into account factors such as:

  • licence usage
  • number of licences used
  • compliance record
  • procedures in place, volume of exports, goods
  • destinations on the licences
  • any special conditions
  • exports involving electronic transfers of software or technology

Most non-compliance issues found by the ECO relate to documentation and records. The emphasis is on helping companies take action to comply with the licence requirements. Remedial measures are usually set out in a warning letter, with a timescale for implementation.

Read more about compliance checks and enforcement of export controls on strategic goods and technology.

Penalties for non-compliance

Exporters should be aware that there are legal penalties for exporting controlled goods without a licence. This includes potential seizure of goods by customs, financial penalties or even a prison term.

For exporters subject to compliance audits, and who have failed to demonstrate a sufficient level of compliance, the ECO will revisit exporters previously issued with a warning letter to check whether the necessary action has been taken to ensure compliance. If there has been little or no progress, it may consider suspending the relevant licence. In serious cases, HMRC officials may decide to prosecute.

Hylton-Potts are experts and can advise. Try our free confidential 24 hour email service or our free confidential telephone helpline 9 am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday