A LAW firm is launching a specialist team to capitalise on the expected boom in licence applications following the relaxation of drinking laws.

Crutes, which has offices in Middlesbrough and Newcastle, is establishing a licensing unit to handle demand from local authorities and licensees.

The Licensing Act, which includes proposals for 24-hour opening for bars, also moves the power to grant licences from magistrates' courts to councils.

The unit will be led by Ranj Matharu, who was recently appointed as a partner with the firm.

She said: "This new Bill is creating a lot of work for local authorities and licensees from right across the region. When this law was first proposed, many people expected a flood of applications for 24-hour licenses, but the reality is proving much more subtle and complex than that.

"Crutes has established this new licensing unit to work with local authorities and licensees, to help produce workable solutions that benefit everybody."