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The interim steps question resolved

High Court Ruling that interim steps imposed on summary review remain in force pending appeal

Summary review procedures under the Licensing Act 2003 are designed to deal with premises associated with serious crime and serious disorder. The procedure provides for a quick decision from the Licensing Authority (interim steps) followed by consideration at a substantive hearing within 28 days.

A decision in December 2011 (Chief Constable Cheshire v Gary Oates) ‘Oates’ determined that any interim steps applied by the Licensing Committee do not survive past the substantive review proceedings. Effectively this meant that any interim steps that had been applied whether they be to suspend the premises licence or to curtail the licensing hours of the premises would not continue past the decision of the Licensing Committee at the substantive hearing of the review. This was a Magistrates’ Court decision only and was not a binding authority.

In a more recent case the Metropolitan Police summary reviewed the premises licence of a club following undercover operations and requested that the Licensing Committee of Tower Hamlets apply interim steps pending a review which included the suspension of the licence. Following representations by the licensee the Licensing Committee decided that the suspension should remain in place pending the full review.

At the full hearing the Licensing Authority determined to revoke the premises licence and that the suspension should remain in effect until a hearing of the appeal against the revocation (if there was one).

This decision was challenged in the High Court by way of judicial review and in his judgment Dingermans J said that the clear meaning of statute was that the interim steps should remain in effect until the time for appealing the review had expired and any appeal had been determined. He therefore refused permission for the Claimant to argue that the Licensing Authority had been wrong in determining that the suspension should remain pending an appeal hearing, and effectively overruled Oates.

At least we now have certainly on this central and important issue but it is not a favourable decision for independent operators who get into trouble.

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