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Licensing Act 2003: House of Lords report 2016/17

04 April 2017: The House of Lords has issued its report into the workings of the Licensing Act 2003.

Below is a summary of its key recommendations, however, if you would like to read a full copy of the report into the Licensing Act, it can be viewed on Parliment’s website.

These are merely recommendations to the Government for the reform of Licensing legislation in England and Wales and it remains to be seen what, if any, action the Government takes in respect of it. The Government should respond in two months.

Key recommendations of the House of Lords’ review

  1. If minimum unit pricing is brought into force in Scotland, then once Scottish Ministers have published their statutory assessment of the working of minimum unit pricing if that assessment demonstrates that the policy is successful, minimum unit pricing should be introduced in England and Wales and should be introduced as a standalone legislative provision.  The Government is urged to look at other ways in which taxation and pricing can be used to control excessive consumption.
  2. The functions of Local Authority Licensing Committees and Sub-Committees should be transferred to the Planning Committees, this should be piloted in a few areas.
  3. Licensing Authorities should publicise the reasons which have led them to settle an appeal and should hesitate to compromise if they are effectively reversing an earlier decision which residents and other intervening parties may have thought they could rely on.
  4. Appeals from Licensing Committees should no longer go to the Magistrates’ Court but should lie with the Planning Inspectorate, following the same course as appeals from Planning Committees.
  5. Coordination between the Licensing and Planning Authorities can, and should, begin immediately with all Local Authorities.
  6. Section 182 Guidance should be amended to make it clear that a Licensing Committee far from ignoring any relevant decision already taken by a Planning Committee, should take it into account, and where appropriate, follow it and vice versa.
  7. The Section 182 Guidance should be amended to make clear the responsibility of the Chair of a Licensing Committee for enforcing standards of conduct of members including deciding where necessary whether individual Councillors should be disqualified from sitting either in particular cases or at all.
  8. A recommendation that the Home Office discuss with Local Government Associations, Licensing and other stakeholders the length and form of the minimum training a Councillor should receive before first being allowed to sit as a member of a Sub-Committee and the length, form and frequency of refresher training.
  9. The Section 182 Guidance should be amended to introduce a requirement that a Councillor, who is a member of a Licensing Committee, must not take part in any proceedings of the Committee or a Sub-Committee until they have received training to the standards set out in the Guidance.
  10. The Committee believes that where there are no longer any matters in dispute between the parties, a Sub-Committee, which believes a hearing should nevertheless be held, should provide the parties with the reasons in writing.
  11. The Hearings Regulations should be amended to state that the quorum of a Sub-Committee is three.
  12. The Section 182 Guidance should indicate the degree of formality required, the structure of hearings and the order within which the parties should normally speak. They should make clear that parties should be allowed sufficient time to make their representations.
  13. Where on a Summary Review a Licence is revoked and the livelihood of the Licensee is at stake, the Magistrates Court should list appeals for hearing as soon as they are ready
  14. Notice of an application should not be given by an advertisement in the Local newspaper. Notices should be given predominately by online notification systems run by the Local Authority.
  15. Local Authorities should ensure that blue Licence Notices, as per Planning applications, should continue to be placed in shop windows and on street lights and in prominent positions near to the venue which is the subject of the application.
  16. Whilst the promotion of health and well-being is a necessary and desirable objective for an alcohol strategy, it is accepted that it is not appropriate as a Licensing objective.
  17. It is recommended that the Law should be amended to require that an application for a Premises Licence should be accompanied by a disabled access and facilities statement.
  18. The Committee do not recommend that powers to ban super strength alcohol across many premises should be granted to Local Authorities.
  19. The Committee does not believe that proposed group review intervention powers, which will give Local Authorities the power to introduce mandatory blanket conditions on all Premises in a particular area, should be introduced.
  20. The Committee recommends that legislation should be introduced in England and Wales similar to that introduced in Scotland for Off sales, which would place restrictions on multipack pricing and prevent any form of multi-buy offer relating to alcohol, ban buy-one-get-one-free offers and restrict the advertisement of drinks promotions and introduce a standard Challenge 25 policy.
  21. The Committee recommends that Licensing Authorities be given the power to object to temporary event notices alongside Police and Environmental Health Officers.
  22. A system for notifying Local Councillors and Local Residents of temporary event notices in a timely fashion should also be implemented.
  23. The Committee recommends that Section 67 of the Deregulation Act 2015 relating to Community and Ancillary Sellers notices, should not be brought into force and should be repealed in due course.
  24. The Committee recommends the development and implementation of a comprehensive Police Licensing Officer training programme designed with the College of Policing.
  25. The recommendation that Section 182 Guidance be amended to make clear that service of a Closure Notice pursuant to Section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act does not:
    •    Require the premises to close or cease selling alcohol immediately;
    •    Entitle the Police to require it to do so; or
    •    Entitle the Police to arrest a person on the sole grounds of non-compliance with the notice.
  26. The recommendation that as no EMROs (Early Morning Restriction Orders) have been introduced, EMROS should be repealed.
  27. Given the weight of evidence criticising the Late Night Levy in its current form, they believe that on balance it has failed to achieve its objectives and should be abolished after a period of two years when the Government should be given a chance to see if they can make it work. If it is to be retained, then they recommend that the Levy should be split equally between the Police and Local Authority rather than 70/30 in favour of the Police as is currently the case.
  28. A full ‘agent of change’ principle should be adopted in both Planning and Licensing guidance to protect both Licensed premises and local residents from the consequences arising from new build developments in their vicinity.
  29. A national database of Personal Licence holders should be formed so that people can be checked for relevant offences. This should be linked to the Police National database.
  30. The Committee recommends that Section 121 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 be brought into force and new fee regulations made, requiring Licensing Authorities to set Licence fees. There are complexities surrounding European legislation.
  31. The Committee recommends further development of the Gov.UK platform for Licensing applications to ensure that it is working with Local Authority computer systems and is fully compatible with the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003. In due course, its uniform adoption by all Local Authorities in England and Wales should be encouraged by the Government with Section 182 Guidance being updated accordingly.
  32. With regard to International Airports, Section 173 of the Licensing Act 2003 should be revoked so that the Act applies fully airside at airports as it does in other parts of airports.
  33. They do not recommend that Licensing Committees be given the power to suspend or revoke a Premises Licence for non-payment of business rates.
  34. A measure designed for members clubs is the suggestion of the abolition of the two-day waiting period required for new members.
  35. The Committee expressed a concern that not enough was being done to enforce Section 141 of the Licensing Act, serving alcohol to a person who is drunk.

If you wish to discuss this further, please contact our Alcohol & Entertainment Licensing team on 01332 340 211.

14 June 2016: At the end of May 2016, it was announced that an ad-hoc House of Lords Committee was to be established to consider and report on the Licensing Act 2003.

The areas of the 2003 Licensing Act that the Committee are to investigate are as yet unknown and the Committee is expected to publish a call for evidence in due course with the Committee to report to the House by 31 March 2017.

As is reported in the Morning Advertiser, the desire to eliminate or at least reduce the effects of harmful drinking is as noble as the upper house itself but it is critical not to penalise responsible Licensees at the same time.

It is to be hoped that their findings will be considered appropriate, proportionate and balanced.

For further information, please contact Andrew Cochrane.

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