Licence reviews provide communities with key protection when there are problems associated with an existing licence.
Designed to deal with issues as they arise, licence reviews are reactive provisions which can be brought about by responsible authorities, members of the community (referred to as ‘other person(s)’) or by the licensing authority itself.
However, an application will be rejected if the licensing authority is satisfied that it is unrelated to any of the licensing objectives or is considered frivolous, vexatious or repetitious.
An applicant will need evidence which substantiates their claim.
The most common type of review application is a standard review, which is a process intended to be used as a last resort after all previous attempts to resolve the issues have failed. A standard review should not come as a surprise.
In the event of ‘serious criminal activity’ being suspected, the police may choose to instigate a summary (expedited) review.
The statutory guidance sets out situations what should be treated as a serious criminal activity. These include:
- Sale and distribution of class A drugs and the laundering of the proceeds of drugs crime
- Sale and distribution of illegal firearms
- Evasion of copyright (pirated and un-licenced films and music)
- Purchase and consumption of alcohol by minors
- Prostitution and sale of unlawful pornography
- Premises used by organised groups of paedophiles to groom children
- Premises used as a base for the organisation of criminal activity, particularly by gangs
- Organisation of racist activity or promotion of racist attacks
- Unlawful gamin or gambling
- Sale of smuggled tobacco or alcohol
A summary review is not intended to be used as an alternative to criminal proceedings and should be implemented to ensure that the crime prevention objective is promoted. The Licensing authority can continue with the review even where there is no criminal conviction.
Upon receiving notice of a summary review, the licensing committee must decide within 48 hours whether any immediate interim steps should be taken, such as excluding the sale of alcohol, removing the designated premises supervisor or suspending the premises licence. The premises licence holder can make representations against the interim steps imposed, in which case, the licensing authority must hold a hearing within 48 hours.
Requests for either type of licence review are required to be displayed on the premises in question and on the licensing authority’s website.
All interested parties and responsible authorities will then have time to make a representation about the review.
Representations do not have to be relevant to the objective on which the application is based. Multiple representations can therefore be combined within one review rather than having a series of reviews brought by different responsible authorities or other persons.
At the hearing
During the hearing, the committee will try to establish the cause of the concerns and decide on the remedial action required to solve the issues.
The committee can decide that:
- No action is required;
- Licence conditions are altered, removed or added, either indefinitely or for a three-month period (e.g. reducing the licensed hours or specifying that door staff are employed);
- Licensable activities are excluded;
- The designated premises supervisor is replaced (in situations where new management may solve the issues);
- The premises licence is suspended for up to three months; or
- The licence is permanently revoked.
If you are faced with the prospect of a licence review, we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.