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Resolving problems with licensed premises

One of the aims of Licensing Act 2003 is encouraging greater community involvement in licensing decisions and giving local residents the opportunity to have their say regarding licensing decisions that may affect them.

S51 Licensing Act 2003 provides that ‘Where a premises licence has effect, a responsible authority or any other person may apply to the relevant licensing authority for a review of the licence’.

At any stage, following the grant of a premises licence or club premises certificate, a responsible authority, or any other person, may ask the licensing authority to review the licence or certificate because of a matter arising at the premises in connection with any of the four licensing objectives.

The proceedings set out in the 2003 Act for reviewing premises licences and club premises certificates represent a key protection for the community where problems associated with the licensing objectives occur after the grant or variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate.

However, it is important to examine other ways of resolving concerns e.g. mediation, prior to applying for a licence review.

  • Where the operation of premises has given cause for concern in relation to the licensing objectives, a resident may apply at any time (subject to certain requirements) to review an existing premises licence or club premise certificate. In practice, it is better to have the support of other local residents (at least one). A ‘reasonable interval’ must have elapsed since a review on similar grounds. This is suggested in the Government Guidance as being 12 months, unless there are compelling circumstances or new grounds (or following a closure order).
  • It is usually a good idea to try to resolve any problems informally prior to applying for a review. We can do this on your behalf. This would typically involve liaising with the DPS and/or premises licence holder about the concerns, informing the appropriate local authority department eg the Noise Team, a Councillor, the police (if it is crime and disorder) etc. This could for example lead to a meeting where the premises licence holder might agree to voluntary undertakings. It has the advantage that if there are problems with the way the premises operates, they are given a chance to rectify the problems informally and if they do not, the residents can gather useful evidence if they want to take it to a review. Westminster has a dedicated team to deal with noise issues, and they can be contacted on 020 7641 2000. The Council also has an excellent team of Licensing Inspectors who where appropriate visit licensed premises in response to complaints.
  • The application form – is designed to be relatively simple to complete. It can be obtained from the Council’s website or by contacting us. Grounds for a review must relate to a particular premises, not the cumulative impact of a number of premises, unless the general situation in eg a town centre can be positively linked by a causal connection to a particular premises. The Applicant must state which of the four ‘licensing objectives’ provide the grounds for the application. As much information as possible should go into the application, and supporting evidence should be appended. It is important therefore that time and care is taken over the application so that the best possible case can be put forward. We can advise on the best way to do this. The importance of substantiating claims with documentary evidence in the form of photographs, film, sound recordings etc cannot be overstated.
  • It is an offence knowingly or recklessly to make a false statement in connection with an application.
  • There are various procedural requirements for a review which must be followed.
  • Representations must be made within 28 days beginning on the day after the application is given to the licensing authority and a hearing must be held within 20 working days beginning with the day after the last day for representations, unless it is in the public interest not to do so.
  • At the hearing, the licensing authority must, having regard to the application and any relevant representations, take such steps as mentioned in subsection 4 (if any) as it considers necessary for the promotion of the licensing objectives. S52:
    1. decide no action is necessary
    2. modify or add conditions
    3. exclude a licensable activity
    4. remove the designated premises supervisor
    5. suspend the licence for a period of not more than 3 months
    6. revoke the licence

The above is general information only, and it is best to seek more detailed advice on your specific case. Contact us for help.