Judges have ruled that a brewery can not be held responsible and prosecuted for the actions of its tenant — even if it holds the premises licence — in a landmark case.
A Hall & Woodhouse tenant and the designated premises supervisor at the Stepping Stones in Poole, Dorset had pleaded guilty at Bournemouth Magistrates Court to four breaches of the Licensing Act.
The prosecution also maintained that the premises licence holder, Hall & Woodhouse, was guilty because unauthorised activity had taken place on the premises.
The prosecution argued the premises licence holder could not divest itself of responsibility by leasing the pub.
However, Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Owen, ruled that the Licensing Act is directed at the actual perpetrator of the offence and anyone who knowingly allows it.
Hall & Woodhouse were represented by Philip Kolvin QC. The result could have impacted 15,000 pubs.
"The result, which makes it clear that the premises licence holder carries no automatic liability for the unlawful acts of third parties, is of crucial importance to the pub trade, and to many other licence holders, such as local authorities, who permit licensable activities to be conducted on their land," said Kolvin.