Making a Representation or Taking a Review
Representations may be made against an application for (or variation to) a premises licence or certificate. Knowing that an operator is applying for a premises licence can be a little hit and miss though. Whilst the responsible authorities are informed by the applicant, interested parties have to rely upon seeing a notice displayed at the premises (on blue paper) or public notice in a local newspaper.
If you are lucky enough to have spotted, or to have been informed of, the application you may, within 28 days of the submission of the application, make a representation to the Licensing Authority (the Council). You can only do this if you consider that the proposal is likely to have an adverse effect on the promotion of one or more of the licensing objectives. This should be in writing but may be completed via email. The licensing team’s email address can usually be found on the council’s website.
You should obtain a copy of the application and operating schedule first before drafting your representation. Make sure that your objections are relevant to the application and, at least, to the public nuisance objective.
If you are suffering from a current (or ongoing) problem you should include that as background information and ensure that you have complained to the environmental health department; who may also be encouraged to make a representation.
You must ensure that the information you provide is accurate and factual; otherwise you may face prosecution. If it is frivolous, vexatious or repetitious it may be rejected. Once accepted the authority must hold a hearing to consider the representation(s) unless all parties can negotiate (or narrow differences) and dispense with the need for a hearing.
You will be written to and given a date for the hearing. You should inform the authority whether or not you will be attending the hearing in person. You do not have to attend but it is good to participate yourself as this is your opportunity to put your concerns across. If you are not comfortable with public speaking you may wish to be represented by someone else.
You will only get a short period of time to present your case so stick to the most pertinent points relating to the licensing objective(s). You can forward supporting evidence along with your original representation; failing that it may be provided to the committee clerk in advance of the hearing.
The licensing authority (usually at the end of the hearing) may:
- grant or vary the licence in the terms it was applied for;
- refuse to issue or vary the licence;
- grant or vary the licence but with changed or additional conditions;
- exclude from the licence a licensable activity;
- in the case of a premises licence, refuse to specify a person as the premises supervisor.
Reviews are sometimes necessary where significant problems are associated with a licensed premises. In the case of reviews it is recommended that you discuss your decision with the responsible authority well in advance. They are able to call for a review themselves but also have a duty to investigate allegations of nuisance that may qualify as statutory nuisances.
They involve hearings which follow a similar format to that outlined above. Licence reviews can result in conditions being attached to the licence, suspension of the licence or revocation of the licence. It is therefore seen as a serious step to take.
Hearings are evidence-based so you must be prepared with a sufficient evidence relating to the operation’s detrimental effect on the licensing objective(s).
Any party involved may appeal against a decision made at a hearing. These are held at the Magistrates’ Court. You should not though that the court can award costs for or against any party who lodged the appeal.
All licensing authorities keep a public register of premises, including details of licenses held and any conditions attached to those licenses. Often they can be viewed online.