Nicola Smith specialises in hospitality and leisure. Her expertise covers both licensing and food law.

    Nicola acts for a wide range of clients from listed companies to entrepreneurs. She prides herself on providing commercially-minded advice as part of a one-stop shop for clients dealing with the management of all of their licensing and food law issues.

    According to Chambers UK 2013, “senior associate Nicola Smith is a key part of the team. Sources say that she is ‘responsive, pragmatic and gets it done,’ with one client adding that she ‘shows a very good understanding of our business and is very well organized and practical.’” Nicola is also highly recommended in TheLegal 500 UK.

    In addition to direct advice on licensing and food issues, Nicola provides support on corporate, property and insolvency transactions and advises on the licences required for the playing of copyright music by PRS or PPL. Nicola is experienced in reviewing and advising upon due diligence systems and has drafted operations manuals and compliance documents for numerous clients following such reviews. She has also provided training at both a legal and operational level including general updates and training on specific changes in law, such as the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation.

    Nicola has successfully represented clients at numerous contested hearings across the country, including for the grant of licences in cumulative impact zones (in the fact of numerous residential objections) and for applications that are contested by the police. She has also dealt with threatened and actual licence reviews, including a review following three test purchase failures, where the committee were nevertheless persuaded that the licence should not be revoked or suspended.

    Nicola writes client updates on topical legal issues for the licensed trade in England and Wales and is a member of the Institute of Licensing.

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    • Contested licence application hearings nationwide including in Westminster, Islington, City of London, Camden, Cardiff, Wolverhampton, Fareham, Preston and many others. 
    • Review hearing for a licensed premises in South Yorkshire following a series of failed test purchases. The clients volunteered additional conditions on our advice at the hearing and avoided any suspension or revocation of the licence.
    • Appeals to Magistrates Courts against decisions of Licensing Committees.
    • Training to EU legal team of global catering company on food law including EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation and Food Safety Law.
    • Various enforcement matters including investigations into failed test purchases and representing clients in subsequent PACE interviews; dealing with voluntary closure requests from police and negotiating various conditions to avoid formal review of the licence; and agreeing reduction of closure period in respect of police closure notice for underage sale.
    • Advising on and obtaining licensing approval for multimillion pound re-developments of arenas, including agreeing strategy for licensing of phases of project to ensure proper coverage throughout works and on completion.
    • Advising on reporting obligations and due diligence procedures following horsemeat scandal.
    • Management of licensed estate of more than 60 hotels nationwide to include all applications for premises and personal licences.
    • Applications for a wide variety of premises from offices to universities to museums and galleries on behalf of a contract catering company.
    • Dealing with contested application for Betting Office Premises Licence under Gambling Act 2005 in Westminster.
    • Licensing due diligence in connection with purchase of music festival, as well as due diligence and drafting clauses for sale agreements, leases and other commercial documents for many other transactions.
    • Advising administrators on the effects of insolvency of a premises licence holder, completing security reviews with regards to licensed premises and submitting interim authority and transfer applications following insolvency. Also providing training to administrators on dealing with licensing issues on insolvency.


    • De Montfort University, L.P.C., 2000
    • University of Birmingham, LL.B., 1999


    • England and Wales, 2002
    • Recommended in Chambers UK 2018 for Licensing, The Regions
    • Recommended in The Legal 500 UK 2017 for Product Liability – defendant; Licensing
    • Recognized as a leading individual by Chambers UK 2016
    • Recommended in The Legal 500 UK 2015 for Licensing

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