Licensing processes during Covid-19 crisis
The measures currently in place to address the crisi are clearly going to have an effect on licensing processes and timescales.
Following developments earlier in the week, no hearings involving actual physical attendance will take place for some considerable time. The Council has adjourned all hearings due to take place this w/c 16 March and 23 March, and is considering the position going forward.
There are statutory timescales for licensing applications.
For applications which have been submitted recently and applications which are submitted going forward, the 28 day consultation period will apply strictly as before. This is set down in the relevant Regulations and cannot be varied.
Following the end of the 28 day consultation period, a hearing should be held within 20 working days, However, there is some flexibility with this. A hearing can be adjourned if the authority deems it to be ‘in the public interest’ to do so.
The latest iteration of the relevant Coronavirus Regulations has removed any doubt about the lawfulness of ‘remote’ hearings taking place using technology such as Skype or Zoom, and this something that local authorities will be looking at.
We will provide an update via the News section when we hear what plans Westminster City Council has regarding licence hearings going forward.