Control over alcohol licenses

Posted: Tuesday, 27 July 2010 @ 13:08
Control over alcohol licenses

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Earlier this month the Morning Advertiser ran a story about the Derby police chief wanting a temporary ban on new licences in the city. It immediately struck me that the Chief Superintendant either did not know his licensing law or he was making a point to provoke a change to the existing law. So what is the law?

Quite simply the licensing authorities have no power whatsoever to impose a blanket ban on the grant of new Premises Licecenses to sell alcohol. The Licensing Act clearly states that each application must be considered on its own merits. Only if objections are made will a hearing take place, and only then does the licensing authority have the power to refuse the licence, and to refuse it it must consider that to grant the licence would undermine one or more of the licensing objectives. To remind you these are the prevention of crime and disorder, the prevention of public nuisance, public safety, and the protection of children from harm. The licensing authority must consider whether any additional conditions would allow them to grant the licence. Refusal of the licence is the last resort.

Some people may think that if the licensing authority has declared a saturation zone in it's licensing policy, that this will allow them to impose a blanket ban. Not so. Each application must still be considered on it's merits. The ony difference is that if there are objections to the applicaton, it is for the applicant to show that the grant would not undermine one or more of the licensing objectives, rather than the objector to show that it would.

Of course all this may change when the government complete it's review into the Licensing Act. It has promised to strenghthen the powers of the police and licensing authorities. The news just in that the licensing portfolio is after all moving back to the Home Office from the Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, will send a shiver down the spine of all those in the industry who fear that the Home Office has it in for the trade.

Nigel Musgrove

Licensing law Specialist

Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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