Licensing Hub – Legal with Poppleston Allen

Legal Q&A: summary reviews and noise complaints

By Poppleston Allen

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On the door: ensure door staff are SIA-registered
On the door: ensure door staff are SIA-registered

Related tags: Licensing

The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen covers summary reviews and noise complaints.

Doorway to a summary

Q – I own a busy pub and on weekend evenings the premises is more drink-led and we offer a variety of forms of musical entertainment.

There is no requirement on our licence to have door staff but we employ two from 8pm until close on Fridays and Saturdays.

Unfortunately, in a recent incident, they overreacted to a racially abusive customer and both ended up punching him such that he was rendered unconscious. I do not believe there were any serious or lasting injuries.

My local police licensing officer telephoned me to request a meeting and has mentioned the possibility of a summary review.

Could that happen as I cannot afford for my business to be closed?

A - A summary review is always a possibility if a police officer of the rank of superintendent or above authorises it. Usually this follows a very serious incident such as a stabbing or a shooting, but it can happen in less serious cases.

Your situation is difficult because you have presumably employed door staff in good faith and have had no problems with them over a period of time. I assume they are properly SIA-registered and from a company with approved contractor status. That being the case, it is difficult to see what else you could have done from a due diligence perspective.

The other side of the coin is that the police will see your door staff as an extension of your own management team and that you are responsible for their actions. If they feel that the incident is significant enough, they could follow the route they have threatened.

I would suggest you immediately take action to have the doormen in question removed from your door and ensure that the door company provide you with high quality alternatives.

When you attend the meeting with the police you will need to assure them this has been done and that there is no risk of a similar occurrence in the future. When a summary review is mentioned, it is often a good idea to have legal representation at such a meeting.

Keeping the noise down

Q - We run a busy town centre bar which trades until 2am on weekends. I recently had a visit from the police licensing officer who said a number of residents living in a new development recently converted from office space had complained about noise. I have had no complaints made directly to me. Should I be worried?

A - Residents have quite a lot of power to adversely affect your business by way of an application for a review of your premises licence. Should they complain to the environmental health department, an environmental health officer might decide to serve a noise abatement notice which, if breached, could lead to a prosecution, with the possibility of an unlimited fine.

Contact your local environmental health officer to determine whether any complaints have been made and show willingness to work to alleviate any concerns. You could also engage a planning consultant to determine what process was gone through in the conversion of the development from office to residential. The existence of your late-night business should have been noted and proper sound attenuation measures insisted upon as part of the grant of planning permission.

You could also conduct regular walk-arounds of the relevant residential areas to determine whether, in your view, noise levels are excessive. Keep a log, including details of any steps you take to reduce noise in the event they are found to be excessive.

Related topics: Licensing Hub, Licensing law

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