Time to ACT! Objections

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Objections to licences and hearings are the subject of the fourth and final part of Time to ACT!, our series on getting to grips with the new...

Objections to licences and hearings are the subject of the fourth and final part of Time to ACT!, our series on getting to grips with the new licensing forms, in conjunction with the British Beer & Pub Association and the BII.

Who can object to my variation application?

Any of the "responsible authorities" (listed in previous articles) that have a valid concern about your application can bring this to the attention of the licensing authority. Similarly, local residents and businesses may also object to your application.

The guidance to the Licensing Act 2003 makes it clear that objections must be relevant and should not be based on frivolous or petty reasons. Objections are only valid if they are:

  • Related to concerns over the effect of the application on the promotion of the four licensing objectives
  • Relevant, ie. not frivolous, vexatious or repetitious
  • Made by one of the "responsible authorities".

What happens if there is an objection to my application?

If an objection to your application is received by the licensing authority, it may be possible to resolve the matter by discussing the issue with the local authority and the party who made the objection. In some cases, this might involve accepting the need for an additional condition to be included on your licence to address the concern.

However, it is also possible that you may be able to allay any concerns without the need for any additional conditions.

Where the matter cannot be resolved, it will be referred to a hearing. The hearing can consist of the full licensing committee or selected members of that committee. Once evidence has been heard from both the applicant and the party who made the representation, the hearing will decide:

  • whether to dismiss the objection, in which case the applicant's original operating schedule will stand; or
  • whether to uphold the objection, in which case the licence may be granted subject to the attachment of any appropriate condition(s)or, where the concerns expressed are of a more serious nature, the licence may be refused.

Remember​ if you are unhappy with the outcome of the hearing, you can submit an appeal to the magistrates.

Can the Licensing Authority refuse/return my application?

The Licensing Authority can return the application for a premises or personal licence if the form is incorrectly completed, essential documents (ie. existing licences/plans) are not included, advertisements are not placed within the right time period or are incorrect, or the incorrect fee is submitted.

Remember​ Make sure you complete all the necessary paperwork - seek professional assistance if you are not sure. Re-applications are time consuming and expensive.

Licensing Authorities cannot return your application if you have not followed their policy

  • They cannot refuse your application on the grounds that you have not addressed any or all of the licensing objectives in your application to vary your licence
  • It is advisable, however, to address the objectives even if you consider that there are no issues. You can either explain why no further measures are required or simply put "not applicable". This will avoid room for doubt, eg. on an application to remain open until 12pm on Friday/Saturday night against Protection of Children you might add "pub operates to 11pm currently - unaccompanied children under 16 are not admitted to the pub - no need for further measures".

What do I do if my application is returned for reasons other than my mistakes?

  • You should firstly find out the reason if you have not been told
  • Seek to have your application re-instated by contacting the council's licensing department
  • Appeal to the magistrates court - who should order the council to let your application proceed if they are in the wrong.


You should now have all the information you need to submit an application to apply for a personal licence and to convert your existing licence into the new premises licence.Here is a reminder of all the things you need to consider and decide:

  • Read your local council's licensing policy
  • Obtain application forms for a personal and premises licence
  • Decide who will be applying for the premises licence and who will be the designated premises supervisor
  • Consider how you want to operate your business and the
    licensable activities you want to provide - do you wish to convert and vary your existing licence at the same time
  • Ensure you have all the necessary documents available to accompany your application.

Ensure you apply for your premises licence/personal licence well before August 6 - applications made after that date will be considered as new licences.

A few tips for applicants

You do not have to apply for all your existing licences and permissions. For example:

Children's Certificates which permit under-14s into the bar area have often been issued with conditions. Given that the new Act only prohibits unaccompanied under-16s, and then only where the pub is used "primarily and exclusively for the sale and consumption of alcohol", it will generally not be worthwhile seeking to "grandfather" Children's Certificates.

Public Entertainment Licences (PELs) will often have many conditions attached to them. You can either accept these conditions on your new licence or:

  • Seek to have some or all of them removed through variation
  • Drop the PEL and make a fresh application for the longer hours with any entertainments you may want (the risk of course is that these may be refused after objections).

Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS)

  • Councils cannot insist that the DPS be on the premises at all times it is open. Objections on these grounds must be resisted. Nor do you need a personal licence holder to be present
  • Nor can councils or objectors insist on additional qualifications or experience from the DPS
  • You may at some time have more than one personal licence holder working in the pub, but this is not necessary.

Additional Information

Councils may not insist on additional documentation. Some councils have asked for copies of risk assessments, electrical safety certificates etc to accompany applications. They cannot do so, nor are they entitled to refuse applications on the grounds that they have not been sent.


The guidance is quite clear that conditions should not seek to replicate other legislation. Objections based on requirements to adhere to other legislation should be resisted since a condition on your licence would amount to a "double-whammy". Breach of conditions can result in fines up to £20,000 which would be in excess of many of the penalties attaching to the actual legislation.

Examples of this would be the Disability Discrimination Act, Health & Safety legislation, Race Relations Act and so forth, all of which have their own regulatory regimes.


Again the guidance is clear that the licensing regime should not be used to impose smoking restrictions. Smoking is a matter of public policy, currently under discussion.

Capacity limits

You should volunteer these where you consider they are necessary, but councils do not have the power to impose capacity limits on all premises.

If in doubt on these and other issues please seek advice

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