How to deal with a licence review

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Premises licence, Term, Time

If there is an issue with noise of smokers outside, consider recording the behaviour if you don't consider it disruptive
If there is an issue with noise of smokers outside, consider recording the behaviour if you don't consider it disruptive
The arrival of an application to review your premises licence is almost certainly the most stressful time that you will face as a premises licence holder or designated premises supervisor (DPS). Even well-run premises can be reviewed but it is not necessarily the end of your world. Here are some tips on dealing with a review.

■ An incident leading to crime and disorder can happen even on a wet Sunday afternoon in the best-run premises and the police may bring a review, even if it is to seek extra conditions (for example, CCTV on the premises licence). Similarly, and this is particularly true of parts of central London; some residents can have a low tolerance level in terms of disturbance, both from customers outside and those leaving premises late at night. This is often a question of good fortune as to how understanding your local residents are. In some cases you will have tried a number of reasonable measures but the residents have still decided to issue a review.

■ You must try and marshal support. A horrible blue notice will be displayed on the premises and local residents or businesses have 28 days in which to make a representation, either negative or positive. You cannot control the negative but you can the positive. Try to encourage your supportive regulars to make a representation to the licensing authority, both complimenting the pub but also (hopefully) disagreeing with the grounds for the review. If there are a number of these — and indeed if there are more positives than negatives — this is bound to have an impact on the licensing committee and indeed there have been cases where these have proved to be significant.

■ A 28-day consultation period and the time leading up to the review hearing is important because if there are any further issues, these can be brought to the attention of the licensing committee. The adage “running a tight ship” has never been more relevant than during this period of time and this is even if you take measures that will affect the business commercially — better to do so in the long run to protect the licence.

■ If, for example, the issue is noise of drinkers and smokers outside, consider recording — either via CCTV if you have it, or other means — the behaviour of those customers if you consider it is not disruptive.

■ If you have not had lengthy negotiations, do try and create a compromise solution if the residents will speak to you; it may well be that the licensing officer will act as a mediator. 

■ Take legal advice — your right of appeal will protect your premises licence in the short term but you have to weigh up costs and achieving a long-term solution for your business. It may be that a small sacrifice, perhaps in terms of losing half an hour’s overall trading, or half an hour to an hour outside, which — while painful in the short term  — will lead to the licensing committee endorsing this, protecting both your licence and residents, with you able to enjoy a better and satisfactory long term relationship.

Related topics: Licensing law

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