A shopkeeper was given a stern warning after he discovered he had been running a grocer’s shop without a licence for nearly two years.
The omission – blamed on a lawyer not doing his job properly – only came to light when a licensing standards officer visited the shop and Post Office in June.
Falkirk Council’s licensing board heard on Wednesday that the owner, Mr Singh, had bought the Day-Today shop on Airth’s Main Street as a going concern in August 2019.
He had assumed the premises licence had transferred over too, but later discovered that the solicitor who acted for him “did not do anything about transferring the premises licence into his name”.
His agent told the board that was “highly unusual” and admitted that it meant the shop had no licence from August 2019 until June 2021.
However, Mr Singh was so unaware of the situation that he had continued to display the licence on the wall, long after it had expired.
The length of time meant that Mr Singh – who is also a personal licence holder – had to apply for a new premises licence.
His agent told the board that the mistake had been a very costly one as Mr Singh had been unable to sell alcohol from June until September.
Since then he has been using occasional licences, but the loss of trade for three months on top of the cost of getting a new licence was likely to leave him out of pocket by more than £10,000, the board was told.
His agent said: “The mistake is mainly that of his solicitor who, according to Mr Singh, was told that he was buying for his client a licensed grocer’s business.
“But we do have to accept that Mr Singh is not entirely blameless in relation to this.”
The new owner had said he thought the licence had transferred smoothly because the designated premises manager (DPM), Nichola Wallace, also moved to the new business as part of the transfer.
“We have to concede that Mr Singh should have known better than that,” his agent admitted.
“It was a mistake and he has paid the price for that.”
The board heard that the shop was otherwise well run and there had been no complaints or objections.
The board convener, Niall Coleman, said: “Mr Singh has failed in his obligations to the board. He may or may not have had indifferent legal assistance but it’s still his responsibility.
“The board is minded to grant the licence and will do that with no restrictions but with a stern warning this sort of error must not happen again.”
By local democracy reporter Kirsty Paterson