Posted: Wednesday, 17 April 2013 @ 12:20
It is good to see a Licensing Authority
setting out what it expects of licensed premises in its area. The recent Code of Good Practice
and accompanying Traffic Light System
introduced by the City of London do make it clear to licensees what, in the opinion of the City of London, they need to do to operate a successful business which does not undermine the licensing objectives
and jeopardise the Premises Licence
But, I give a word of warning. The Code does not have any legal effect. The City of London acknowledge this when saying that it is not a statutory document. But they go on to say that it will be taken into consideration in certain situations such as when they respond to a licence application and when there is a formal review
of the premises licence.
The problem here is that the Licensing Act 2003 makes it clear that in carrying out their duty to promote the 4 licensing objectives, a licensing authority must have regard to its licensing statement and to the statutory guidance. Whilst the act does not exclude reference to a Code of Good Practice, or indeed anything else, it would be dangerous to base any decision on such a code alone..
A licensing authority should not lose sight of its primary duty to act in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003. If the licensing authority’s own Code has not been followed it does not necessarily mean that one or more of the licensing objectives have been undermined.
I have no problem with the Code of Good Practice and its accompanying Traffic Light System. It should be clear to operators when a review is imminent and what can be done to minimise the risk of a review application, but when it comes to a hearing such as on a contested application for a new premises Licence, or a review of a premises licence, the licensing authority must concentrate on the evidence before it, and not whether or not their own Code of Good Practice has been complied with.
For example, their traffic light system introduces a points system for licensed premises.
Over a rolling 12 month period accumulate up to 10 points and you are probably safe in green. 6-9 points for any one licensing objective and 11-19 points across all 4 licensing objectives and you are in amber. 10 or more for any one licensing objective and 20 plus for all 4 and you are in red and at serious risk of a review. But it is important that this is used as a guide only and is not seen on its own as evidence that a premises is undermining one or more of the licensing objectives.
It is necessary that evidence directly relates to the premises and to the carrying on of business there in a way which impacts one or more of the 4 licensing objectives. Nigel Musgrove Licensing Law Specialist
Tel: 0845 003 5639
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