At any time after a premises licence is granted, an application can be submitted for the review of that licence. Reviews are called when a licensed business is operating is such a way that it is undermining the promotion of the four licensing objectives; the prevention of crime & disorder, the prevention of public nuisance, public protection and the protection of children from harm.
The Licensing Act also makes provision for an expedited review (also known as summary reviews) process. Expedited reviews allow the police to fast-track a review of a premises licence where they consider a premises to be associated with serious crime and/or serious disorder, and allow the LA to quickly respond by taking interim steps, where appropriate, pending a full review. Interim steps are temporary measures which have to be taken within 48 hours of the application for an expedited review.
The Home Office recently published the 2018 alcohol national statistics which indicated that in the year ending 31 March 2018, 85 expedited review applications were made. In the majority of cases (70), the licensing authority imposed interim steps against licence holders that included:
- the licence was suspended in 48 cases
- other conditions were added or modified in 23 cases
- the operating hours were modified in 6 cases
- the designated premises supervisor was removed in 6 cases
Expedited review hearings must be held within 48 hours of the application and it is lawful for an interim review hearing to be held without the licence holder being given the opportunity to make representation. Interim steps can remain in place for several weeks until the substantive review hearing is held and potentially beyond if there is a subsequent appeal.
It is clear from the above that expedited reviews and interim steps can have significant implications for any licensed premises. In most instances, licensed businesses are forced to cease trading all together as an interim step.
When a premises licence holder is notified that an application for an expedited review is made, they have very little time to prepare for the interim review hearing that is to be held within 48 hours. Given that in most cases licence holder’s premises licences are suspended, being well prepared and represented is essential. It is therefore absolutely essential for any licence holder facing an expedited review to seek expert legal representation and advice.
Licensing Defence Barristers are expert licensing barristers dealing with all Licensing Act 2003 matters including expedited reviews, full review hearings and appeals.
In our experience, licensing authorities more often than not do not have sufficient time to properly scrutinise police evidence within the 48 hours preceding the interim hearing and as a consequence err on the side of caution by suspending the premises licence as an interim step until they have time to fully consider the evidence. The Licensing Act 2003 makes provision for premises licence holders to make representation to the licensing authority which will trigger a further review meeting. There is no limit on the amount of times a licence holder can make representation following an interim review meeting which gives a licence holder opportunity to take steps to address the concerns initially raised by the police.