A licensing lawyer has warned that unscrupulous bar operators may be trying to use new licensing legislation to put rival venues out of business.
Police applied for closure orders for three Liverpool city-centre bars after revealing they had been "tipped off" that major disorder was set to break out.
But licensee Tony Dono-hue, who runs one of the nightspots, the Society Club, said he believes owners of a nearby bar were behind the move. Solicitor Anthony Horne said it showed how closure order procedures could be open to abuse.
"The police were tipped off there was going to be major trouble and asked three venues operated by members of the same family to close for the night," he said.
"When they refused, police applied to the magistrates for closure orders under section 160 of the Licensing Act.
"When I approached the police and said the orders would be contested they conceded they had no proper evidence and agreed to withdraw the application."
Horne said he was concerned police had been prepared to take action on un-substantiated grounds. "I think people operating in competitive city-centre areas should be aware of what could happen," he added.