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The Licensing Act Ten years on – 10 Years in ‘Review’

New research reveals interesting new licensing trends

It’s just over ten years since the Licensing Act 2003 was passed for licensed premises in England and Wales.

To mark the anniversary, the UK’s leading licensing lawyers, Poppleston Allen issued various freedom of information requests to over 180 Licensing Authorities to unearth the effect the introduction of the Act has had and what had taken place during that time. Of those Licensing Authorities we asked, 77 replied fully to the questions put to them about Reviews.

How many Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate Reviews have been bought?

1541 reviews were made to the Licensing Authorities who replied, of which:

  • 963 or 62.4% were brought by police
  • 125 or 8.1% were brought by Environmental Health
  • 329 (21.3%) were brought by Trading Standards
  • 72 (4.6%) were brought by Licensing Authorities
  • 119 (7.7%) by “other persons” (usually local residents)

These figures closely reflect those from the recent Home Office report for the year ending 31st March 2016, which revealed 59% instigated by Police, 21% by Trading Standards, 7% by Environmental Health and 7% by local residents.

Of particular interest were:

  • 2 by Planning in one area
  • 49 by Health & Safety in one area
  • Only 4 by the Fire Service

At the review hearing, the action taken was follows:

  • 375 or 24.3% licences were revoked
  • 288 or 18.6% licences were suspended
  • 910 or 59% had conditions imposed (the licences could have also been suspended and this figure would include reductions in hours)
  • 139 or 9% resulted in the DPS being removed (the licences could have also been suspended and had conditions attached)

Again, these figures are not dissimilar from the Home Office report for the 12 months to 31st March 2016, when 64% had conditions imposed, 29% were revoked, 11% suspended  and 7% where the DPS was removed (the total is higher than 100% because more than one step will have been taken in some cases).

How many Summary Reviews have been bought?

There were 171 Summary reviews of which 110 were suspended until the hearing of the full review.

Jonathan Smith, Managing Partner at Poppleston Allen, commented: “Whilst these findings were from a sample of the Licensing Authorities, the data, if extrapolated, does present some interesting findings.  I was slightly surprised at the number of licences that were revoked, being a total of a quarter of all Reviews, and also that more Designated Premises Supervisors were not removed.

It is no surprise that over 60% of Reviews were brought by the Police.  However, it is surprising to me that Environmental Health has not brought more.  Indeed, Trading Standards has bought 2½ times as many Reviews as Environmental Health. What it does show is the very small number of Reviews that have been brought by “other persons, there is a total of 119 across 77 Licensing Authorities over a period of 10 years”.

The 49 Reviews in one area bought by Health and Safety were done I understand on the basis that the premises were closed.  I find this surprising since by law the Licensing Authorities would have to rely on one of the four licensing objectives and if a premises isn’t trading how can it be trading to the detriment of the licensing objectives.  What this does highlight is that councils are effectively powerless to revoke Premises Licences where premises have closed or even been demolished.  Whilst non-payment of the annual fee can lead to the suspension of a Premises Licence, it cannot lead to its revocation.

For further information about the findings in this licensing report, or for any other licensing issue you might have, contact Jonathan Smith on 0115 953 8500.

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