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‘Shadow’ licences and reviews

Applications for ‘shadow’ licences seem to have become popular in Westminster recently.

A ‘shadow’ licence is one that runs alongside an existing licence, and should be in the same terms as the existing licence. A ‘shadow’ licence is typically applied for by a freeholder of a building whose tenants hold the existing licence, and the aim is to protect the value of the licensed use of the building should there be a problem with the existing licence (which could lapse, be surrendered or be revoked). The premises would continue to be operated for the time being under the existing licence.

The practice of applying for shadow licences has raised concerns of enforceability problems, as it may not be clear which licence is in use and thus whom to enforce against if there are problems. These concerns were appreciated by a High Court Judge in a recent case, although the decision in that case reiterated that ‘shadow’ licences are perfectly lawful.

For residents, if you are having problems with a licensed premises and are thinking of applying for a ‘review’ of the licence, it is important to check if there is more than one licence attaching to the premises, as it may be necessary to review both licences.