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Threat to licence after noise complaints

I have been served with a noise abatement notice - what can I do?

Q: I run a hotel which is fully licensed and also incorporates an external courtyard which we sometimes use for functions. Normally these functions are fairly low key with a small acoustic arrangement or pianist playing in the background while guests drink champagne and enjoy canapés. I recently ran an event that was a birthday party and the organisers brought their own DJ along and a small sound system. It seems that there were a number of complaints from local residents in the area and I have had a visit from an Environmental Health Officer who has served a Noise Abatement Notice and is also threatening to review my premises licence. What should I do?

A: The first thing is to take some advice on whether or not you should Appeal against the Noise Abatement Notice and you only have 21 days beginning with the date of service of the Notice in which to do so. Although you can appeal by simply sending in a letter explaining your reasons it is probably better to have a lawyer prepare the Appeal if there are any good grounds for the appeal.

The area of law is a very technical one but at the very least appealing the Notice may protect you from prosecution in the short term should you breach it and also provide you with some leverage in negotiations with the EHO as to a longer term solution.

You may decide that if you have had no complaints from your normal events within the courtyard that there is very little risk going forward as long as you do not run a similar event again to the one which caused the problem. The Abatement Notice would remain in place if you do not appeal but you could write to the authority after 6 or 12 months and ask them to confirm that they will no longer be taking any action under it due to the lack of complaints in the meantime.

A review of the premises licence is always possible where there are residential complaints either at the behest of the residents themselves or the Environmental Health Officer but good communication with both parties and explaining what went wrong and that it will not happen again should be sufficient to deflect a review at this stage.

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