Nicola Smith specialises in regulatory compliance. Her expertise is broad ranging and covers alcohol and entertainment licensing, food and feed law, and general product compliance, safety and recall (including general consumer products, cosmetic products, medical devices and food contact materials). Nicola also specialises in road vehicle/driver laws, including public inquiries before traffic commissioners.

Nicola acts for a wide range of businesses, from listed companies to entrepreneurs, and in addition to advisory work, she represents clients in enforcement action, including at interviews under caution, as well as hearings.

Nicola provides support on corporate, property and insolvency transactions, and is experienced in reviewing and advising upon due diligence systems. She has drafted operations manuals and compliance documents for numerous clients following such reviews.

Nicola also provides training to clients and other organisations. Examples include training to managers on licensing requirements, including inspections, test purchases and even conducting mock interviews; the management of global product recalls; food law requirements, including in relation to allergen laws (presenting twice to representatives of the Chinese Food and Drug Enforcement Agency visiting the UK to understand the application of medicines and food and drink laws); and UKCA marking and name and address changes following Brexit. In addition, Nicola has written for the Food edition of the American Bar Association (ABA) publication on recalls due to labelling errors, as well as authoring numerous practice notes on alcohol licensing for LexisPSL and numerous articles for Sedgwick’s Product Recall Index.

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 and the Food Law Group.

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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, including successfully appealing conditions imposed on an off-licence by the Liverpool Committee.
  • 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 the reduction of a closure period in respect of a police closure notice for underage sale.

Food Law

  • Training to the EU legal team of a global catering company on food law, including EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation and Food Safety Law.
  • Advising on reporting obligations and due diligence procedures following the horsemeat scandal.
  • Advising a US-based manufacturer of an energy drink on labelling requirements in the EU, national requirements in the UK and Ireland, and checks on draft labels for Germany.
  • Advising a retailer on the recall of a chocolate bar contaminated with plastic.
  • Advising intermediate manufacturers on requirements under legislation governing food contact materials and potential enforcement action for breaches of composition and labelling requirements.
  • Advising a vending machine operator on food labelling requirements on impulse machines and hot drink machines, including in relation to allergens.
  • Advising on various matters, including labelling, risks and liabilities under Food Information Regulations, rules on additives and irradiated ingredients, vitamin claims, marketing terms, requirements for notification to the FSA, withdrawal and/or recall.
  • Advising a US-based supplier and European subsidiary on labelling requirements for various CBD product types, including food supplements, pet products and cosmetics, and advice to a UK drinks manufacturer on the use of CBD as an ingredient, including in relation to “novel food” status.
  • Advice to a Germany-based producer on UK laws as part of cross-jurisdictional advice on food labelling (natural claims) managed from Germany.
  • Advising a producer of food packaging labels on obligations under Plastic Food Contact Material laws and composition requirements for adhesives and printing.
  • Advising an independent drinks producer on potential liability for protected geographical indications.

Other Products

  • Advising a vehicle manufacturer on requirements for UKCA marking of parts and vehicles imported from the EU into the UK following Brexit.
  • Advising various clients on classification of products as medical devices, including borderline products potentially also classified as cosmetics, medicines and/or general consumer products.
  • Advising US-based businesses on economic operator status for import of products to the EU and the UK, and requirements for the importer and/or authorised representative to undertake local compliance responsibilities, including labelling obligations.

Goods Vehicle Operator Licensing

  • Advising numerous operators on preliminary hearings before Traffic Commissioners following bridge strikes by company vehicles, including preparation for hearings and representation.
  • Assisting a holiday business with variation to an operator licence and subsequent public inquiry to consider application and numerous objections.
  • Assisting a PLC client with response to the DVSA Examiner and Traffic Commissioner following a failed depot inspection and a roadside encounter.

Corporate Support

  • Licensing due diligence in connection with the purchase of a music festival, as well as due diligence and drafting clauses for sale agreements, leases and other commercial documents for many other transactions.
  • Due diligence on sales and acquisitions of various food manufacturing and food service businesses, including reviews of local authority records, third-party certifications, enforcement history and raising appropriate enquiries.
  • Advising administrators on the effects of insolvency of a premises licence holder, completing security reviews with regard 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 2022 for Licensing: Birmingham
  • Recognised as a Leading Individual by Chambers UK
  • Recognised as a Recommended Lawyer in The Legal 500 UK 2022
  • Recommended by The Legal 500 UK for Product liability – defendant and Licensing

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