LETTER TO THE HOME OFFICE FROM SOUTH AND SOUTH EAST
MAGISTRATES' COURTS SERVICE
I wonder if you would take the
following points into account when deciding whether to amend the
above order before it has legislative effect.
There is no provision for how
long a person can remain a prospective licensee, and no limit
to the number of premises for which someone can hold a prospective
licence at any one time.
Subparagraph 4 of the proposed
new Section 8A provides (inter alia) that Paragraph 1 (C) of Schedule
2 to the Licensing Act 1964 shall apply to applications to become
a prospective licensee. This would mean that such applications
would have to be advertised in a newspaper and a notice placed
in the premises, something which applicants for transfer are not
obliged to do. Perhaps it should read Paragraph 1(b)?
Perhaps this would be more naturally
placed after Section 10 of the 1964 Act rather than Section 9?
The period of notice which must
be given for the application is not stated. For information the
local police advise us that they struggle to manage with the 7
day notice period necessary for protection orders!
Paragraph 9B (3) provides that
the power to grant interim authorities can be exercised by a single
Justice, and may be exercised otherwise that at licensing sessions.
I am not clear whether the single Justice, or indeed any Justices
considering an application outside licensing sessions should be
a member or members of the relevant Licensing Committee. Perhaps
this could be clarified?
Mr K R Doran
Clerk to the Licensing Justices
9 April 1997
LETTER FROM NEWARK
AND SOUTHWELL LICENSING COMMITTEE
Having considered the above draft
Statutory Instrument in great detail, the Newark & Southwell
Licensing Committee would make an initial observation that the
present system of protection order and transfer works perfectly
well and has put in place a scheme which ensures that applicants
for licences are thoroughly vetted by the police initially and
the Justices and Licensing Justices subsequently. Bearing in mind
the abhorrence by courts and other authorities of the "revolving
door licensee" syndrome it seems strange indeed that the
planned deregulation proposal intends to a great extent to dilute
this sifting process. It is well established that licensed properties
who regularly change the licensee are more likely to cause a problem
to the courts via breaches of the licensing laws and/or violence
than those which have a settled licensee. The proposals give substantial
opportunity to applicants (via their management companies and
breweries) to insert people into licensed premises almost at will
thus giving the opportunity for problems to arise which the current
system does not allow.
In so far as the proposals themselves
are concerned we would say the following:-
of Prospective Licensees
Although the proposed approval
gives the licensing justices the power to vet an individual and
ensure that they are a fit and proper person, the approval then
has no set duration. What safeguards exist to ensure that a person
who perhaps subsequently is convicted of a relevant offence or
because of other
factors ceases to be a fit and
proper person, can then be prevented from electing that the transfer
provisions will apply to him? It cannot be right that such approval
of prospective licensees is open ended in this way.
2. Interim Authorities
Our main difficulty with interim
authorities is the proposal that if made within 7 days of the
transfer power being exercisable then there is a deemed grant
for 14 days, ie no one scrutinises the fitness of the applicant.
We are further concerned that the only potential objection
is that of the police. There are many other agencies who have
relevant and proper input into these issues who it would appear
are prevented from objecting. Additionally why is there no opportunity
for the Justices themselves to object - Licensing Justices have
a great deal of experience not only of their local properties
but also of local licensees and applicants for licences which
may lead them to believe that a certain individual would not be
3. Power of the
Clerk to Grant
The Committee has no difficulties
as such in authorising the Clerk to the Justices in the way proposed.
We would observe however, that it is possible unless the points
made above are resolved, for an individual to assume the control
of a licensed property after being granted an interim authority,
without then appearing before any regulatory authority at all.
There would also appear to be
no authority for the Clerk to the Justices to delegate his power
to authorised members of his staff. Without this power to delegate
we feel that the proposal is unworkable.
We have further concerns about
the proposals as they stand generally:-
a) What service requirements
b) What notice periods are
c) Where does a single Justice
grant the proposed interim authority?
d) What proof will be required
that an individual has held a licence previously?
For all of these reasons above
we feel that the draft statutory instrument should not receive
approval as it presently stands and would invite you to take into
account our concerns as outlined above.
Mrs P B Rhodes
LETTER FROM THE HOME OFFICE TO NEWARK AND SOUTHWELL LICENSING
Chairman, Newark & Southwell
28 April 1997
Your letter of 28 April to the
clerks to the Deregulation Committees has been forwarded to me.
I am sorry it has taken so long to reply. We have been waiting
to see whether this order was likely to proceed, which I think
it will now do.
The draft Order was reported
on favourably by the Deregulation Committees in the last Parliament
and has now completed its initial 60 day scrutiny.
Below are my comments on the
points you raised in your letter.
Approval of prospective licensees
No time limit has been put on
the duration of an approval because the intention is to simplify
the process and to avoid introducing additional bureaucracy.
It is acknowledged that there
are some marginal risks involved in any period of unscrutinised
authority to sell alcohol. The Working Group, which included representatives
of the licensing justices, justices clerks, and the police, regarded
this as acceptable. In practice there would be a strong disincentive
for a company to put forward unsuitable persons, as refusal to
grant an interim authority would result in the premises having
to close. The Deregulation Committees of both Houses of Parliament
accepted this aspect of the proposed order.
The proposal endorsed by the
Working Group and contained in this draft measure is essentially
for a fast-track procedure, which would fall automatically if
there were a police objection.
I did not follow what you say
about the justices' objecting: if the court does not think an
interim authority should be confirmed, it will be able to nullify
the authority by so deciding.
Power of clerk to grant
Our view is that existing provisions
give sufficient power for clerks to delegate the functions allowed
to them by the Order.
The service requirements and
periods of notice are specified in the draft Order.
It would be for the courts to
make their own administrative arrangements for the grant of an
interim authority by a single justice. It would also be for the
courts to decide what proof they require of an individual's previous
Liquor, Gambling and Data Protection
23 July 1997