News Summary Reviews

Licence Holder's Rights to Request a Representations Hearing

I have very recently been involved in a Summary Review case where one of the legal changes introduced in April 2017 had effect.

One of the amendments to Summary Reviews relates to the Licence Holder’s right to request a “representations hearing” against any interim steps that have been imposed by the Licensing Committee.  What usually happens is that there is a serious incident at the premises, the Police apply for a Summary Review, there is an “interim steps” hearing within 48 working hours to which the Licence Holder may or may not be invited, and conditions are imposed.  Those “conditions” are often a suspension of the licence.  In my case, the first my client got to hear about the proceedings was to be told that his licence had been suspended (the Licensing Authority had tried to contact him but were unsuccessful).  He found himself closed on the Friday before a busy weekend.  He had a right to request a further hearing to ask for the suspension to be lifted or other less onerous conditions to be imposed, and this had to be heard within 48 working hours.

Clearly, he was going to miss that weekend, but this is where one of the changes to Summary Reviews kicks in – previously, a Licence Holder could in theory apply as many times as he or she liked to amend the interim steps. Now, it is just once (subject to a material change of circumstances).  My client had just one bite of the cherry to get the suspension lifted, otherwise his premises would remain shut at the very least until the final Review Hearing just under 28 days hence.

The financial imperatives to re-open are enormous of course but the risk here is to have a knee-jerk reaction to the suspension and ask for your Representations Hearing immediately. But if all you are going to make is an impassioned plea to be re-opened is that not a waste of that one precious chance? If you get it wrong there is no appeal until after the final Review. Better to make some real changes, even if it takes a week - to your door team, your senior management, your training regime or admissions policy, for example.

What you do not want to do is simply request your one and only Representations hearing before you have anything positive to say either about the incident or your operation.  In my case, we did have positive things to say, reached an interim agreement with the Police and are able to re-open pending the full Review albeit it with reduced hours and a different door team.