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licensing appeal or review hearing?
The Licensing Act 2003 designated local councils as the licensing authorities for
a new integrated system of alcohol and entertainment licensing. Any premises at which
regulated entertainment is carried out will (with a few exceptions) need a premises
licence. Where alcohol is supplied, both the premises and those responsible for
the supply need to be licensed. Complaints about licensed premises can lead to
a review of the licence, at which extra conditions can be imposed or the licence
can be suspended or revoked. Applications can be made to vary the licence conditions.
Otherwise, the premises licence is permanent, unless it is surrendered.
Where the licensing authority refuses a licence or variation application or imposes
conditions, the applicant has a right of appeal to a magistrates’ court. There is
a similar right of appeal for a resident or responsible body (e.g. police) where
a licence is granted in the face of objections, or where the council refuses to impose
a condition sought by the objectors. A licence holder, objector or interested party
aggrieved by the decision at a review hearing will also have a right of appeal. Appeals
under the Licensing Act 2003 are made by written complaint to the Clerk to the
local Magistrates, within 21 days of the decision. The magistrates will usually
hold a directions hearing to prepare the matter for a final hearing, at which fresh
matters can be taken into account. Legal representation is widespread and costs
are in the discretion of the court.
Magistrates’ courts also hear appeals against the refusal, suspension or revocation
of a private hire or hackney carriage driver, vehicle or operator licence (“taxi
licences”), or against the imposition of conditions. Generally, the only parties
will be the council and the licence holder/applicant, with no general public involvement.
Representation is common and costs are in the court’s discretion.
There are many other activities requiring a licence and generating a right of appeal.
Any decision to refuse, suspend or revoke a licence should be in writing and should
set out the avenue of appeal. Appeals to the magistrates will generally follow the
format above, but in other cases the appeal may be to the Secretary of State or an
Inspector appointed on his behalf, or even an internal appeal within the council
or licensing authority itself.