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Licence revoked for employing illegal workers

In Lincolnshire, a restaurant owner had his Licence revoked for employing illegal workers.

The owner had been employing an illegal worker and the Licence was revoked by the Council.  The restaurant owner appealed this decision to a District Judge and in the Magistrates’ Court, it was established that a worker had been employed without paperwork showing he had the right to work in the UK.  The worker had been paid cash in hand and had been paid less than the minimum wage and no PAYE records were kept and whilst tax had been deducted from the worker’s salary, the restaurant owner failed to account to HMRC for the tax deducted.

Surprisingly, the District Judge held that, because prosecution proceedings had not been bought and no crime and had been reported, the crime prevention objective was not engaged. This was despite the Council arguing that it was not necessary for a crime to have been reported, prosecuted or established in a Court of Law in order for the crime prevention objective to be engaged, stating the Licensing objectives were concerned with the avoidance of harm in the future.

The Council appealed to the High Court and their arguments were all accepted by Mr Justice Jay.  The Council stated there was clear evidence of the commission of criminal offences both in relation to the non-payment of the minimum wage and also tax evasion.  As for the offence of knowingly employing an illegal worker, it was considered that given the employee couldn’t provide a National Insurance number or a tax code the clear inference was that the restaurant owner knew he was employing an illegal worker.

The Judge pointed out that employing an illegal worker involved not only defrauding the Revenue but also the exploitation of vulnerable individuals by not paying them the minimum wage.

The Court ordered costs to be paid by the restaurant owner in the sum of £15,000.00 and reserved Judgment on the costs incurred in the Magistrates’ Court.  The fact that the restaurant owner had received a civil penalty for employing illegal workers rather than being prosecuted did not mean that the crime and disorder Licensing objective could not be relied upon.

For further information, please contact Andrew Cochrane.

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