LICENSING
Live events industry

 

Leeds United Football Club have successfully challenged charges from West Yorkshire Police for policing any areas not “owned, leased or controlled’” by the club. The Police force had charged te club based on a ‘footprint’ on match days which included public highways, car parks and the bus station near to Elland Road stadium, but in the High Court a reluctant Mr Justice Eady, noting the cost to the public purse from his decision, said that nothing in the law allowed the police to charge for a conveniently designated footprint. He added “I appreciate that my interpretation of the law is unfortunate not only for West Yorkshire Police but also for the public purse” but ordered the police to repay Leeds an estimated £1 million it had paid over the last three years concluding that the services rendered fell within the normal constabulary duty to keep the peace saying “More generally, it seems wrong to discount the majority of well-behaved fans who come to Elland Road, whether club supporters or visitors, all of whom retain their status as members of the public. In that capacity, they too are entitled to expect police protection”. Other clubs are also now expected to apply for refunds after other police forces charged for their services based on ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) guidance. ACPO said they were seeking legal guidance and reviewing the information provided by the ruling.

In 2006 The Mean Fiddler Group (then owner of Reading Festival Limited) won a Court of Appeal battle over who pays to police major events, again against West Yorkshire Police.  They had been ordered to pay West Yorkshire Police nearly £300,000 for its services at the Leeds Festival in 2003. The Court of Appeal said that “special police services” had not been requested in 2003 and could not be recovered from the promoter. Lord Justice Scott Baker said the ruling had implications for major events and any large gatherings of the public.  He said the court was being asked to decide on the dividing line between services the police must provide as part of its public duty and special services provided at the request of promoters, for which promoters must pay. Lord Justice Scott Baker said: “There is a strong argument that where promoters put on a function such as a music festival or sporting event which is attended by large numbers of the public, the police should be able to recover the additional cost they are put to for policing the event and the local community affected by it” and that “this seems only just where the event is run for profit. That, however, is not the law.” Allowing the appeal, he said it had not been established that a request had been made for “special police services” at the three-day event at Bramham Park near Leeds.

Reading Festival Limited v West Yorkshire Police Authority [2006] EWCA Civ 524

(and for more on this case see Music Law Updates June 2006 at http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=2917

and see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-18965193