More than half of pubs, clubs and restaurants in England and Wales could miss a licensing deadline brought in under new drinking laws.
A "chaotic autumn" is predicted if the expected 55 per cent of licensees fail to convert existing permits before August 6, to continue trading, according to today's National Licensing Summit.
So far, Local Government Association figures show that about 30 per cent of premises in England and Wales have submitted new applications.
And the summit - organised by Westminster City Council - said it feared up to 45 per cent of premises could be left without a licence when the Licensing Act 2003 comes into force in November.
Westminster is the UK's largest licensing authority, and Audrey Lewis, Cabinet Member for Licensing, accused the Government department responsible of seeming to be "in denial" about the issue.
She said: "With only 17 working days to go before licence applications have to be submitted, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport appears to be in denial.
"The strong message coming out of the summit is that licensees should do everything they can to at least convert their licences now in the next 17 days."