UK judicial review finds local authority policy illegal

October 2005

Live Music Industry

The pub sector has won a landmark legal case against Canterbury City Council in the UK finding that Canterbury’s Licensing Policy is unlawful. Central to the case was that Canterbury’s Licensing Policy was far too prescriptive, set broad blanket conditions on licensed businesses and misled those applying for licences about what they had to do to be granted a licence – in effect the case was that the Council’s Licensing Policy was in breach of the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003. Mr. Justice Richards stated in his ruling, ‘It is sufficient that my judgment speaks for itself, not just to the council [Canterbury] but also to the other licensing authorities whose policies are under examination’. The case highlighted the problem in the licensed trade where a number of local authorities attempted to use their Licensing Policies to impose what are said to be unnecessary and unlawful conditions and regulatory burdens on pubs. The Judicial Review was a joint action taken on behalf of the pub industry by the British Beer & Pub Association, The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Institute of Innkeeping. Government figures now show that 86% of premises have now applied for a new licence from November. Just less than half were asking to change their licensed hours.
However the UK Government has now bowed to pressure from local authorities, members of the public, MPs, Police Chiefs, the Transport Police and the Association of Circuit Judges who have all variously warned of the potential for an increase in violent crime and disorder in town centres, around pubs, increased violence on trains and say that little or no account can be taken by Licensing Authorities of bona fide concerns of local residents and businesses. The licensing minister, James Purnell, will this week write to local authorities announcing a review of the way licence applications are handled. The review will look at cases where local residents objections were rejected. The Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has also promised to review the new system once it was in place.


No Comments

Comments are closed.