Published on 2 April by the professional body for the UK’s licensing practitioners, the protocol is designed to assist licensing authorities comply with duties outlined in the Licensing Act 2003.
Factoring in the closure of licensed premises, restrictions on freedom of movement and social distancing measures, the protocol promotes the continuation of the licensing system using alternative means of processing applications and remote technology to conduct hearings, for example.
“It is recognised that during this emergency period, local authorities and police, in particular, will be burdened with exceptional duties that go outside the usual realms of licensing,” the protocol explains. “However, that is not a reason to bring the licensing system to a complete halt for the undoubtedly long period ahead of us until the pandemic is over.
“There is a significant public interest in ensuring that licensing processes can continue and enable new and current applications to be processed – and hearings convened – where necessary,” it continues.
The new IoL protocol explains that while recent legislation and the ongoing shutdown do not relieve licensing authorities of their statutory duties, they do necessitate more “flexibility and creativity” in their implementation.
“The current pandemic and necessary restrictions on business and individuals have had an enormous impact in all areas,” IoL Chairman Daniel Davies explained. “In particular, licensed businesses face an existential threat and must be able to innovate and look at new ways to conduct business.
“At the same time, the licensing objectives within the Licensing Act 2003 must be promoted and safeguarded. Local authorities also face very significant challenges in keeping the licensing system going. It is essential that the licensing system continues to work, and works well.
“The Institute of Licensing’s protocol is designed to inform and assist licensing authorities and operators in managing, and using, the licensing system effectively and fairly during these extraordinary times.”
The IoL’s new protocol can be read, in full, here.