Licensing Update

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There have been a number of licensing related publications in the last few weeks which I briefly touch upon below.

1.         Amendments to the Licensing Act 2003

Recent amendments at the beginning of April have come about through implementation of relevant parts of Policing and Crime Act 2017 and Immigration Act 2016.

Policing and Crime Act (Part 7) brings about a number of changes including:

  • Meaning of alcohol - to include powdered or vaporised alcohol
  • New power for licensing authorities (LA) to suspend or revoke a personal license when notified of a conviction for a relevant offence, foreign office or immigration penalty.
  • Expanded list of relevant offences for personal licence holders (for convictions on or after 6.4.17 adds sexual and violence offences together with manufacture etc of imitation firearms and terrorism related offences)

Immigration Act 2016

In force since last summer when it created new offences of:

  • Illegal working
  • employing when has reasonable cause to believe that the person has no right to work in UK

From 6th April 2017 elements of above Act impact the LA 03 placing a duty on licensing authorities not to issue licences to individuals who do not have the required immigration permission to be in  or work in the UK  (personal and premises licences).

Changes also include:

  • Home Office (Immigration Enforcement) will undertake role of a ‘responsible authority’ and will receive premises licence applications and have right to make representations (objections) to applications.Will have power of entry under LA 03 Act to investigate illegal working in premises engaged in licensable activities, working closely with licensing enforcement officers and police.
  • Immigration offences including civil penalties become relevant offences as defined by LA 03 Act.
  • Immigration officers permitted to enter premises which they have reason to believe are being used to sell alcohol or provide Late Night Refreshment to investigate whether immigration offences are being committed in connection with the licensable activity.
  • Personal and premises licence applications - as referred to above licensing authorities are now required to check the immigration status of all individuals applying for a personal or premises licence.As well as including a signed declaration by the applicant stating they have entitlement to work, all such applications now require evidence of the applicant’s right to work in the UK being provided with the application.Failure to include this documentation will result in the LA rejecting it. There is a 3 page list of acceptable documentation click here but a photocopy is acceptable.If the applicant holds a British passport then a copy of the relevant page will suffice.

- Personal Licence Holders - if a PLH loses the right to work in the UK their PL immediately lapses as does any authority to be DPS.

- Designated Premises Supervisors - the form of consent signed by the applicant now requires personal information to include DOB, place of birth and nationality.By proceeding with an application the individual is confirming they are entitled to work in the UK.

To assist with the interpretation of above an amended version of the Section 182 Guidance to the LA 03 has been published.  Additionally published is a separate new Guidance for authorities in implementing changes brought in by Immigration Act.

2.         Outcome of House of Lords Select Committee review of Licensing Act 2003

In Spring 2016 the Select Committee was convened to review the LA 03 Act, which had, by that time, been in force for 10.5 years.  The process involved hearing evidence from all interested parties; including trade, licensing authorities, residents, police etc. and took approximately 10 months.  Their findings were published on 4th April 2017.  The full report runs to some 180 + pages and can be found here.

The enquiry found the act to be “fundamentally flawed” and requiring a major overhaul.  A selection of their recommendations are set out below but to view the full list refer to page 154 of the report:-

  • The report is critical of the behaviour of Licensing Committees, highlighting lack of consistency nationally, lack of training and recommends essential reform by moving licensing hearings to the jurisdiction of Planning Committees thus merging the licensing and planning regimes and for there to be trials as soon as possible, although legislation to remain separate.
  • Appeals from the licensing authority to no longer go to magistrates court but to the planning inspectorate
  • There should be close coordination between licensing and planning systems with planning decisions taken into account by licensing and vice versus
  • There should be mandatory licensing training for councillors.
  • The law should be amended to require, as in Scotland, that an application for a premises licence should be accompanied by a disabled access and facilities statement.
  • ‘Agent of Change’ principal should be adopted in licensing and planning to protect residents and businesses from consequences of new development.
  • Creation of a national database for personal licence holders linked to the Police National Database.
  • If Minimum Unit Pricing is introduced in Scotland, it should also be introduced in England and Wales. In the meantime, the Government should seek other means of controlling excessive alcohol consumption through taxation and pricing measures.
  • Scotland's provisions for the off-trade should be adopted in England and Wales as soon as possible with encouragement to adopt in the meantime via the Guidance:

--       Restrictions on multi-pack pricing
--       Ban on ‘buy one get one free’ or other offers including free alcohol
--       Restrictions on advertising drinks promotions, restricting them to specific designated alcohol display areas
--       All premises adopt Challenge 25 policies

• Requirement for newspaper advertisements should be removed, but blue notice retained. 

  • Gov.uk platform should be used for online applications and recording relevant information.
  • EMROS and Late Night Levies to be repealed
  • Introduction of locally set fees should be progressed.
  • LA 03 should apply in airports, ports and hover ports.

Whilst Select Committee reports carry considerable weight there is no requirement for Government to accept them or act upon them within a specified time or at all.   It is usual to receive a Government response within two months but there are various exceptions to this and with the snap general election it is probable a response will be delayed.

For further information please contact the Licensing Team.

Karen Lush

May 2017