The Licensing Act: Post-Legislative Scrutiny

Napthens - April 26th 2017

After being tasked with scrutinising the effectiveness of the Licensing Act and following an enquiry which has taken almost a year, the House of Lords has produced their report and recommendations.

A full copy of the 180+ page report can be viewed here, but 'headlines' from the Report include:

  • The Report recommends that late night levies are abandoned as a means of tackling late night problems on the basis that there are more feasible alternatives.
  • The Report recommends that minimum unit pricing should be implemented if it proves successful when implemented in Scotland.
  • The Report recommends that Public Health is not introduced as a fifth licensing objective.
  • The Report recommends a trial of a system whereby licensing committee and sub-committee functions are carried out by planning committees, and whereby appeals are dealt with by a licensing equivalent of the planning inspectorate instead of the magistrates’ courts.
  • The Report recommends that the Guidance is amended to provide that a councillor is not permitted to take part in the proceedings of a licensing committee or sub-committee prior to receiving a set level of training.
  • The Report recommends that the requirement to publish notice of some licensing applications in newspapers should be removed.
  • The Report recommends introducing a requirement for new licence applications to be accompanied by a disabled access and facilities statement.
  • The Report recommends that Licensing Authorities are given the power to object to Temporary Event Notices and that a system should be introduced to notify Councillors and local residents when TEN’s are submitted.
  • The Report recommends that the section of the Guidance which provides that “the Licensing Authority should accept all reasonable and proportionate representations made by the police unless the authority has evidence that to do so would not be appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives” should be removed.
  • The Report recommends that the provisions relating to Early Morning Restriction Orders should be repealed.
  • The Report recommends that an “agent of change” principle should be adopted (which would afford some protection to a licensed premises that was there first if, for example, residential properties were subsequently built in it’s proximity).
  • The Report recommends that a national database of personal licence holders, which is linked to the Police National Database, should be created.

The Report concludes that there were fundamental flaws in the framework of the legislation and suggests that subsequent amendments have, if anything, compounded those flaws, meaning that a radical overhaul is required.

The Government will respond to the contents of the Report over coming weeks, following which the recommendations will be debated in the House of Lords.

As always we will keep you informed of further developments, but if you would like any further information or advice in the meantime, please contact one of the Licensing team.