Published on July 12th, 2011 | by Dean Carr
How do I object to an alcohol licence application?
The Licensing Act 2003 is based around four principles:
- the prevention of crime and disorder
- public safety
- the prevention of public nuisance
- the protection of children from harm.
Representations or reviews must relate to the issues listed above and not to other issues. Representations must be made in writing and may be amplified at the subsequent hearing. Representations may not be sent electronically (i.e. by e-mail or fax), without prior permission from the Local Licensing Authority (the Local Council) and even then they must also be sent in writing.
Who can make a Representation against a Licence Application?
Legislation defines those who can generally lodge objections as:
- Interested Party
- Responsible Authority
The Licensing Authority has no power itself to make a representation against any licence or variation application or to call in a contentious application so it can be considered by a licensing sub-committee. It cannot itself initiate a review of a Premises Licence. Other parts of the Local Council, such as the Planning Division or the Environmental Health Division (acting in their Pollution Control role) may be able to make representations or request a premises review and they would then be treated as any other representor.
If a licence application has not been objected to, the Local Council must grant the application and cannot attach any conditions of its own to the licence.
Generally, representations against an application must be made within 28 days (commencing the day after the day on which it was given to the Local Licensing Authority). This period is reduced to 7 days in the case of a review following a closure order.
How do I know if a Licence Application has been made?
All licence applications are entered into a public register, held at the Local Authorities’ Civic Centre, and must be advertised at the premises and in a local newspaper. The local Authority would not normally write to neighbouring properties to advise of applications in their area.
New Premises Licences
Any Interested Partyor Responsible Authority can make a representation against a new Premises Licence application.
New Personal Licences
Only the Police can object to the grant of a personal licence if the applicant has a criminal conviction and the grant of the licence would undermine crime prevention.
What happens to my Representation?
The law requires that if a Representation is considered by the Local Council to be frivolous or vexatious then it will be denied and there is no appeal against such a decision. Representations can also be rejected on the grounds that they are not relevant to the four licensing objectives (listed above).
A valid representation is required to go before a Sub-Committee of three Councillors who hear the matter and the representations. Licensing Officers usually give a background report on the premises but will not make recommendations.
Please note that Licensing Officers are not able to work on behalf of representors to help them to prepare their representations or speak on their behalf.
The Licensing Sub-Committee may:
- grant a licence with or without additional conditions
- exclude from the licence a licensable activity
- revoke or suspend for up to 3 months an existing licence
- or reject the application or review request.
There is no power to grant a licence for a limited trial period.
The applicant and anyone who lodged a representation may appeal, against the decision of the Local Council, to the Magistrates Court.
Other Courses of Action
The Licensing System is not the only way of regulating licensed premises and other legislation may apply. The Act should not duplicate other legislation and legislation to control noise problems, health and safety at work or fire safety may be more appropriate to deal with a particular problem.