Published on December 13th, 2010 | by Dean Carr
Proposed changes to the Licensing Act 2003
One of the Coalition Government’s first acts when they came to power was to consult on changes to the Licensing Act 2003. The result of the consultation was added to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill which was presented to Parliament on 30 November 2010.
Part of this Bill deals with the amendments to the Licensing Act and will give greater powers to Authorities and Local Residents in the way decisions are made about licensed premises. The Bill is not in its final format and there will be time for MPs to debate the final details of the Bill.
The major changes proposed include the following:
Until now the Licensing Authority’s duty was to just process licensing applications made to them. Now they will be able to object to applications in their own right as well as request a review of a Licence. Primary Care Trusts (and Local Health Boards in Wales) will now also be a Responsible Authority under the Act.
Representations and Requests for Review
Any party will now be able to make representations and request a review of a Licence. The “vicinity” requirement will be removed which means that people living some distance away from the premises will now be able to object to a Licence application.
In addition to the Applicant advertising their application the Local Authority will also be required to advertise the application as well.
Promotion of the Licensing Objectives
The “necessary” test in relation to the licensing objectives will now change so that the Licensing Authority will need to take such steps as are “appropriate” to promote the Licensing Objectives. This means that the threshold for imposing conditions will be lowered. This may lead to additional conditions being imposed on Licences which previously could not have been imposed.
Temporary Event Notices (TEN)
The Police are the only Authority who can currently object to a TEN and only on the ground of Crime and Disorder. It is proposed that Environmental Health will also be able to object to a TEN. It will be possible to object on the basis of all of the Licensing Objectives. Licensing Authorities will be able to impose conditions on a TEN in limited circumstances.
Changes will allow for any one TEN to last for up to 7 days, currently 4 days. The number of days for a premises to have TENs will be extended from 15 days to 21 days. There is also provision for making a Late TEN which would allow 5 days notice rather than the standard 10 days notice.
It is proposed that the maximum fine for premises which persistently sell alcohol to those under 18 will be doubled from £10,000 to £20,000. The period of closure for a premises will be extended from a maximum of 2 days to a period from 2 days to 14 days.
Early Morning Restriction Orders
Licensing Authorities are to be given greater flexibility in making early morning restriction orders. They will be able to make such orders for the whole, or part, of their areas for a period of time between midnight and 6am, and be able to impose different restrictions on different days. Currently the Authority can only impose restriction orders between 3am and 6am.
Non-Payment of Annual Fee
This provision gives Licensing Authorities the power to suspend a Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate for non-payment of the annual fee. This power will be subject to certain conditions. Currently a Local Authority cannot suspend a Licence for non-payment of the annual fee and they can only pursue the debt through the Civil Courts.
Late Night Levy
Licensing Authorities will be able to introduce a levy in their areas which will be payable by premises which supply alcohol as a part of the late night economy. Licensing Authorities will be able to impose the levy on premises for a period of any duration between midnight and 6am, although some premises may benefit from an exemption or discount. At least 70% of the money raised by the levy must be paid to the Police and Crime Commissioner. This funding is also intended to pay other Local Government bodies which operate measures to address the effect of alcohol related crime and disorder.
Personal Licences – Relevant Offences
There are new offences to include:
- Failing to co-operate with a preliminary test – Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 6(6)
- Attempting to commit an offence that is a relevant offence – Section 1 of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981
- Conspiracy to commit an offence that is a relevant offence – Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977
- Conspiracy to defraud
It is likely that there will be amendments made to the above proposals before they become the law. The Licensing Team will keep you updated on the changes which will affect your business as they are announced.
Source : Lexology.com