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He is an undisputed and passionate leading expert in this area, recognised at the highest levels of trade, local authority and Government. Stephen has appeared at virtually every licensing board in Scotland dealing with the most contentious applications and hearings on behalf of every conceivable type of licensing client across liquor, entertainment, gambling and other licensed trades.
Testament to his status is his track record of holding the highest of offices pertaining to this practice. Stephen has been Accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Specialist in Liquor Licensing since 2017. He was the Chairman of the Institute of Licensing (IOL) Scottish region, have formed it, from 2016 to 2020 and remains a trustee of the national IOL charity. He was the President of the Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Society (“The Ben”) from 2018 to 2020 and remains a trustee. He was the Chairman of BII Scotland from 2013 to 2016 and awarded Fellowship of the BII in 2015. He has chaired and sat on numerous Scottish Government working groups on licensing reform and is the only solicitor to have given oral evidence at the Scottish Parliament on both alcohol and gambling law.
Stephen is also the recognised leading author in the area of Scottish licensing law, having authored five books including Licensing and Gambling Law in Scotland (2009) and Local Government Licensing Law in Scotland (2012). He is also the author of the pre-eminent text McGowan on Alcohol Licensing Law in Scotland due for publication in Spring 2021. He contributes regularly to all manner of journals and media including most recently appearing on the BBC in relation to Coronavirus regulations and the so-called “cafegate” affair in October 2020, and is a sought after speaker for conference and seminar events.
Stephen represents a wide variety of clients and is the lead licensing solicitor in Scotland for a number of household names including Celtic FC, Eden Mill Brewery and Distillery, Greene King, Hawthorn Leisure, Isle of Harris Distillery, Noble Leisure, Punch Pubs, Rangers FC, Sainsburys, Scone Palace, the Scottish Grocers Federation, and Tennents.
“He is very supportive and has provided clear advice.”Chambers UK 2022
“Stephen is extremely knowledgeable regarding the current status of the licensing boards in Scotland. He is energetic and proactive in sourcing and producing the information required.”Chambers UK 2021
“His understanding of and presence in the licensing community is second to none”Chambers UK