This guidance describes how to apply for a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate, under the Licensing Act 2003. It also contains information about the hearings process that follows.
An interested party (e.g local resident) may apply for a review of a licence or certificate that is in force.
A licensing authority may reject the application for review if it is satisfied that the grounds for review are not relevant to one or more of the licensing objectives:
- The prevention of crime and disorder;
- Public safety;
- The prevention of public nuisance; and
- The protection of children from harm
The licensing authority can reject any ground for review if it considers it to be frivolous, vexatious or a repetition of a previous review.
What does "frivolous" and "vexatious" mean?
"Frivolous" or "vexatious" will bear their ordinary meaning. Whether representations are frivolous or vexatious will be for the licensing authority to determine. For example, the licensing authority might find the representations were vexatious if they arise because of disputes between rival businesses or frivolous if they clearly lacked seriousness.
Interested parties cannot apply for a review anonymously, even if somebody else (e.g. a local MP or councillor) is applying for a review on their behalf. If interested parties are concerned about possible intimidation, they could consider asking the police, or another appropriate responsible authority to apply for a review on their behalf.
Before applying for a review, interested parties may want to consider whether their concern(s) could be effectively dealt with outside of the formal review process. This could involve, for example:
- Talking to the licence holder to determine whether there are any steps they may be willing to take to rectify the situation
- Asking the licensing department at your council to talk to the licensee on your behalf
- Ask your local MP or Councillor to speak to the licence holder on your behalf
- Talking to the relevant "responsible authority" (e.g. environmental health in relation to noise nuisance, or the police in relation to crime and disorder) to determine whether there is other legislation that could help resolve the issue
Things you may want to consider when seeking a review:
- It may be helpful to get the backing of other residents or businesses in the area, or other responsible authorities such as the Environmental Health noise team
- Contact the licensing department to ask what the licence allows and what conditions it may have so you can see if any breaches are happening
- If you are thinking of raising a petition, it is important to ensure that it relates to the licensing objectives and that the names and addresses of signatories are clearly legible. It would also help if a spokesperson could volunteer to receive details about the hearings etc. from the licensing authority and may be willing to speak on behalf of the petitioners at the hearing
- If you want to ask another person such as an MP or local Councillor to represent you at the review, it is advisable to make such a request in writing so that the individual can demonstrate he or she was asked. It will be a matter for the MP or Councillor to decide whether they should agree to your request. They are not obliged to do so, however, most elected representatives are happy to help residents with this sort of issue. It should be noted that Councillors who are part of the licensing committee hearing the application will not be able to discuss the application with you outside the formal hearing, so it is suggested that you do not approach them
- The more evidence you have of the problems caused by the premises will help the committee determine what action they should take. You could for example keep a diary over a period of time of incidents. Sound or video recordings may also be helpful. It may also be a while before any hearing, so it is good to keep a clear record
- Try to get as much information as possible about any official response to any individual incidents (e.g. - police being called out)
- It should be noted that conditions attached to licences cannot seek to manage the behaviour of customers once they are beyond the direct management of the licence holder and his staff, but can directly impact on the behaviour of those under the licensee's direction when on his premises or in the immediate vicinity of the premises
- If there is general noise nuisance on the street you will probably need to show how it relates to the specific premises
- Residents or businesses applying for a review following a particular incident should be cautious, as a licensee may argue that this was a one off problem that can be rectified without a review
- Have a good idea how you'd like the situation to be resolved such as extra conditions, removal of an activity such as live music, reduced hours or even revocation.
If you request a review of the premises licence you will need to complete the prescribed form which is on the councils website. You are also required to notify the holder of the premises licence or club premises certificate and the "responsible authorities", by sending them a copy of the application, together with any accompanying documents, on the same day as the request is given to the licensing authority.
The licensing authority will advertise the request for review and allow a period of 28 days for other persons to make representations to it.
After the period for making representations has expired, the licensing authority will hold a hearing to consider the request. The review will in most cases be considered by the licensing sub‐committee who will hear representations from all parties involved.
The licensing authority will invite you to attend the hearing and give you the opportunity to address the licensing sub‐committee.
Once the sub‐committee has listened to and considered all views and evidence, it must decide what (if any) action is appropriate to promote the licensing objectives. Actions can include:
- No action,
- Modifying the conditions of the licence (change, add or remove conditions - including operating hours)
- Excluding a licensable activity from the licence
- Removing the designated premises supervisor
- Suspend the licence for up to 3 months and
- Revoke the licence
There is a right of appeal for all parties concerned with the request for review. This means that you can appeal to the magistrates' court if you are not happy with the decision of the licensing authority.
If you appeal against a licensing authority's decision, and you are unsuccessful, the magistrates' court can award costs against you if it sees fit. This would mean that you would have to pay the other parties' legal costs as well as your own. However, the Magistrates' Association and the Justices' Clerks Society has advised that awarding costs for a licensing appeal should be an exception and not a rule, and any resident with reasonable grounds for appeal should not be penalised.
If the licence holder appeals against the licensing authority's decision, the appeal will be heard by the magistrates' court. The licensing authority will be the respondent to the appeal and may call you (and any other person or responsible authority) as a witness in support of its case.