Legal expertise on tap

Whether it be for a post-work drink or a relaxing Sunday afternoon, pubs play a key role in the social lives of many people. Here at Smith Partnership, we do our job so publicans can get on with theirs, safe in the knowledge that any legal issues relating to their business are taken care of. 

Contact us today to find out what we can do for you. 

Practice head Russell Davies has a niche specialism in disputes relating to leases and tenancies of pubs and is lauded by clients for his 'very proactive approach'. 

We have been very satisfied with all aspects of The Smith Partnership and we intend to remain with them going forward.

Russell Davies has a very proactive approach with our business relationship and regularly offers advice to our company without being prompted. This demonstrates that our partnership is long term and we feel very valued as a client. We intend to strengthen this relationship by working on many more legal cases moving forward.

We are very satisfied with all the individuals we have dealt with over the years.

The Legal 500, 2023

How we can help

Our specialist legal team has years of experience in working with clients from across the licensing industry, from large pub chains to single publicans looking to buy their first pub. Our team of expert brewery solicitors can offer advice and support on all licensing matters, including: 

  • Buying/selling your pub
  • Dealing with all leasehold matters including the grant, renewal, variation of leases
  • New premises licence applications 
  • Variations, transfers and temporary event notices 
  • Application process support 
  • Any litigation/dispute matters relating to your business/lease

Drawing from our experience, we will offer bespoke advice and support that is entirely tailored to your needs and objectives.

Who we can help

Having built a reputation for customer excellence, our specialist team supports clients of all sizes. We have acted for a number of breweries and pub companies as well as being recommended solicitors for several pub business agents.

In cases which involve criminal prosecution, we work closely with our dedicated business defence team to offer expertise in criminal investigations. We are able to guide clients through the process, seeking to minimise any disruption to the business and protecting its best interests at all costs. 

Don’t just take our word for it...

Our brewery litigation team is backed by Legal 500 recognition, which states:

Noted for its ‘very good response and service levels’, Smith Partnership has particular strength in property litigation and litigation regarding breweries, both specialisms of practice head and mediator Russell Davies, who attracts praise for his ‘experience, honesty and understanding of situations from a legal and personal perspective’. 

The Legal 500, 2022

Why choose Smith Partnership?

When it comes to the highly-regulated area of licensing and leisure, it is essential to have expert legal advice you can trust to help you handle any legal matters which may arise. Several of our team members hold the National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (NCPLH) qualification, so you can be sure you are in safe hands. 

As a firm, we pride ourselves on adopting a straight-talking and friendly approach whereby any advice is guaranteed to be practical and free of jargon. We also work towards building strong relationships with clients, really getting to know their businesses and goals and offering legal assistance whenever it’s needed. 

We understand that excellent communication is an essential element to proactive case management. Along with regular contact via telephone, email and face-to-face meetings at your premises or our offices in Derby, Burton Upon Trent, Swadlincote, Leicester and Stoke on Trent, clients can also access our online reporting system, ensuring they are able to keep fully up-to-date with their case at all times. 

Our transparent service ensures that fees are clearly explained before work begins. The high service levels are coupled with competitive market pricing and we make a concerted effort to ensure that the charges made are competitive yet adequately reflect the high level of service and dedication that Smith Partnership is known for. In many debt recovery cases, the team will act on a fixed fee basis, offering even greater peace of mind.

Contact our team today

To find out how our expert team of solicitors can help you, contact us today on 0330 123 1229, send us an email via or complete our contact form.


You are going to need a premises licence in order to provide any of the following licensable activities:

  • The sale of alcohol
  • The provision of regulated entertainment
  • The provision of late night refreshment

We can apply for a premises licence on your behalf and guide you through the complex application process as well as arrange to advertise your application in a local newspaper as required.

You will need to complete a premises licence application form and submit it to the relevant Licensing Authority (and relevant authorities) together with a scale plan for the premises. If you intend to sell alcohol then you will need to nominate a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) on the application. The DPS will need to provide a consent form (the DPS also needs to hold a personal licence) and you will also need to submit the relevant fee with the application.

After you have put your application in you'll need to:

  • Place a public notice on your premises to allow for 28 days’ consultation
  • Place the same public notice in a local newspaper within ten working days of submitting the application

There will be a 28-day consultation period which allows consultees and members of the public time to consider your application, and raise any concerns under the licensing objectives. Once this period has expired without any representations having been made, your premises licence will be granted.

A hearing must be held if any representations are made in respect of the application. If a hearing is held it can result in the licence:

  • Being granted
  • Being granted subject to additional conditions
  • Have licensable activities listed in the application be excluded
  • Being rejected

A premises licence lasts for an unlimited time unless the licence is revoked, suspended or surrendered.

Buying a pub can be a hugely nerve-wracking experience with many aspects to cover before you get your name above the door.

The first step is to decide whether it is in fact the life for you. It is important also to research, plan and adapt your business strategy. Decide how you want to own the business and consider the following options:

  • Take a tenancy for a number of years tied to a brewery - this business will not be your own
  • Take a lease for a longer period of time which will allow you to have more control
  • Purchase the freehold where every aspect of the business is yours outright

Regardless of which option you choose, all businesses need supply chains to succeed and you must consider the costs of purchasing stock, products and equipment, including leasing of any third-party items. It may be that you want to continue with existing suppliers but also consider the opportunities available with new suppliers and the benefits of signing up to new agreements.

Licensing is an important aspect of any public house business purchase. It is important that you transfer any premises licence into your name or someone of your choosing. A premises supervisor will be responsible for ensuring that the conditions of the premises licence are complied with at all times. The premises licence will determine what, when, and how you will be able to carry out activities in the business, varying from service of alcohol and food through to opening hours and even entertainment allowed in your pub. You should consider if the existing premises licence fits with your strategy and whether any applications need to be made to vary the licence such as extending opening hours.

A section 146 notice is served by a landlord when they consider their tenant to be in breach of the terms of the tenancy.

Other than in relation to unpaid rent (where a section 146 notice isn’t required, but sometimes served), a section 146 notice is a necessary first step in the process of recovering possession of a property. The notice must give the tenant a reasonable period of time to comply with its requirements. Should the tenant fail to comply, the landlord can take steps to terminate the tenancy, resulting in the tenant being evicted from the property.

If the tenant accept the contents of the section 146 notice but wish to avoid being evicted, they should comply with its requirements as soon as they are able. It is also sensible to engage in discussions with the landlord to let them know they are doing that. If some additional time is needed to comply, the tenant should ask the landlord, Providing the request is reasonable, they should accept your request.

If the tenant contests the contents of the section 146 notice because they do not believe they are in breach, then it would be sensible to consult with a solicitor so that a formal response can be given to the landlord. It makes sense to do this before the landlord issues proceedings seeking to evict the tenant from the property, as in the long run that is likely to save a considerable amount of money.

Dilapidations is the technical word used to describe the repairs which need to be carried out at a property at the end of a tenancy. A tenant’s obligations in relation to dilapidations are defined by the tenancy itself, and are not always related to the condition of the property when the tenant took it on.

If you are a landlord wishing to pursue a tenant in relation to dilapidations there are certain steps you need to take before you can pursue such a claim, and it is sensible to get early legal advice on those options.

If you are a tenant who thinks a dilapidations claim may be made against them, it is important that you take steps before the end of the tenancy to complete any works which you think need to be done.

If, as a tenant, you think there is likely to be a dispute over the dilapidations, it is also important that you gather evidence prior to your departure from the property in the form of a surveyor’s report and/or photographic evidence showing the condition of it when you leave.

As the owner of the property there are a number of options available to you. You could pursue the tenant for the unpaid rent, perhaps by using County Court proceedings. You may decide that the tenant is not going to be able to pay and would rather evict them from the property and install another tenant. If that is the case, then it is important that you take legal advice early. Attempts to collect the rent may prevent you from subsequently seeking to evict the tenant for failing to pay.

When advising we also take into account why the tenant won’t leave, if, for instance, they need to be re-housed by the Local Authority, then the commencement of proceedings is usually required before the Local Authority will deem the tenant to be homeless, and agree to re-house them.

There also needs to be a realistic appraisal of the tenant. Are they failing to pay because it is a particularly poor trading period and they will make up the money at some other time, or are they a perennial non-payer who needs to be evicted?

We offer pragmatic advice on these issues, and the ways in which they can be resolved.