Philip Kolvin QC

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Practice Areas

Licensing, Local Government, Public Law.

Philip Kolvin QC has specialised in licensing law for over 20 years. He is a creative and dedicated lawyer, often to be found in the leading cases and issues of the day. His clients include national operators, independents and local and national regulators.


Philip took silk in 2009.

Philip is an Associate Fellow at Westminster University’s Centre for Law, Society and Popular Culture. He is a Recorder of the Crown Court. He is a Patron of the Institute of Licensing. He is a Board Member of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, the King’s College Hospital Charitable Trust and Crystal Palace Park Trust. He is a past Chair of the London Mayor’s Night Time Commission, Best Bar None, Purple Flag and the Institute of Licensing.

Professional Memberships

Patron of Institute of Licensing, Fellow of Royal Society of Arts.


Philip is widely published in his field. His books include Licensed Premises: Law, Practice and Policy: Sex Licensing; Gambling for Local Authorities; Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents on Licensing; Atkins Court Forms on Licensing; and Councillors’ Conduct (Editor).

As Chair of the London Mayor’s Night Time Commission, he wrote the Mayor’s Vision for the Night-Time Economy, From Good Night to Great Night.

Industry Sector Expertise

Alcohol and entertainment

Philip is highly sought after for his work under the Licensing Act 2003. He has worked for Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, M&B, Deltic, Tokyo Industries, All Saints, Walkabout, Alchemist, Brewdog, Hard Rock, The Ritz, Chelsea FC, Aspers Casinos and many others.

He has achieved considerable success obtaining licences and extensions in cumulative impact areas, including Brewdog in Leeds and York, Sainsbury’s in Leicester, Alchemist in Newcastle upon Tyne, Morrisons in Camden, Earth Hackney in Shoreditch, Hard Rock in Piccadilly Circus, the Boulevard Theatre in Soho, the Ivy Club in the West End and Karaoke Box in Mayfair. Recently he obtained 50 licences on the same day for Hawley Wharf at Camden Lock.

Philip has extensive festival experience. His clients have included Festival Republic, AEG, Broadwick Live and Boomtown. With AEG (All Points East), he established in Court that it is not open to the licensing authority to grant a licence for a shorter period than that applied for. With the London Borough of Haringey, he established in the Court of Appeal that a local authority has wide powers to permit festivals in parks under the Local Government Act 1972, without the constraints imposed under other legislation.

He is frequently called upon to help clients whose licences are under threat, whether reviews, summary reviews or closures. He was called in by Fabric Nightclub after its licence had been revoked following drug deaths at the club, and following intensive litigation was successful in recovering the licence in 10 weeks.

Philip has advised and trained over a hundred local authorities on their powers, policies and strategies. He helped devise the country’s first cumulative impact policies and won the litigation which set the law of licensing policy, including R (Westminster City Council) v Middlesex Crown Court and R (JD Wetherspoon) v Guildford Borough Council.


Philip is a preferred Counsel to the Gambling Commission and advises and acts in a range of policy, technical and enforcement work. He won the case in the Court of Appeal which established the range of the Commission’s powers in respect of operating licences (Greene King v Gambling Commission).

His experience in gambling is long-standing, having acted for the claimant in the leading pre-Gambling Act licensing case of Hestview. His clients have included William Hill, Ladbrokes, Gala, Coral, Betfred, Paddy Power, the Noble Group, the Association of British Bookmakers, the Bingo Association, BACTA, Gauselmann, remote operators and many others. His work includes obtaining and resisting premises licences, reviews, operating licences and product development/legality.

Philip also acted for all 16 licensing authorities granted the right by Parliament to issue licences under the Gambling Act 2005, and defeated judicial review challenges to such grants.

Sex Licensing

Philip has acted for and advised most of the leading operators of sex establishments, including Spearmint Rhino, Platinum Lace, Windmill, Sophisticats, Tokyo Industries, Simply Pleasure and Darker Enterprises.

He has obtained a licence and an extension for Platinum Lace in the West End Cumulative Impact Area in Coventry Street and Leicester Square respectively and for Tokyo Industries in the Cloth Market, Leeds. He has also helped defend reviews and opposed renewals of sex establishment licences.

He has also advised many licensing authorities on their licensing policies, particularly regarding the numbers of sex establishments in their area. He worked with campaign groups the Fawcett Society and Object to devise the modern legislation on sexual entertainment venues, achieving a change to primary legislation in 15 months.

Philip acted for the operators of Soho sex shops in the case of Hemming regarding licence fees, which went to the Supreme Court and the European Court, the first licensing case to do so. The practical result of the litigation was a 90% reduction in sex shop fees in Westminster.


Philip has acted extensively for Uber in recent years, defeating objections to renewal, unfavourable policies and prosecutions.

He established in the High Court that Uber drivers did not ply for hire (Reading v Ali), that intended use policies were unlawful (R Delta and Uber v Knowsley BC) and that the Chief Magistrate had acted lawfully in allowing Uber’s appeal against TFL’s refusal of its London licence (R (United Cabbies Group v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court).

He also established in the Magistrates’ Court that a licensing authority could not impose an operating licence condition preventing an operator importing vehicles from another authority area (Uber v Brighton City Council). Philip has also acted for many licensing authorities, including one of the largest regulators of private hire vehicles, Wolverhampton City Council.


In the Hillsborough Inquests, Philip acted for Sheffield City Council, which had been the sports certification, building regulation and planning authority for the stadium. He has sat on the Board of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority since 2016.